Former Heidelberg Officer, Acquaintance Arrested for Insurance Fraud Scheme

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Dezmond Cooley

A former officer with the Heidelberg Police Department and another man are awaiting a bond hearing after being indicted and arrested on charges stemming from an altered accident report and fraudulent insurance claim, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Elbert Benton

Officer Dezmond Cooley, 30, allegedly created and altered a false Uniform Crash Report to assist the driver, 31 year-old Elbert Benton, in receiving insurance benefits after the crash. The indictment states that the accident happened on January 19, 2018, when Benton was not insured. Cooley altered the report to falsely reflect that the crash happened on February 11, 2018, after Benton obtained insurance coverage on the vehicle involved.

The two men were arrested Tuesday and booked into the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. Benton is charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy and face up to 8 years in prison. Cooley is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of alteration of record and faces up to 15 years in prison. A charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brad Oberhousen, both with the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau.