A former northern California police officer was expected to be sentenced this week for falsifying a claim for the loss of three Mickey Mantle baseball cards.
Keith Hooks, 43, who worked for the city of Tracy, south of Sacramento, pleaded guilty to felony insurance fraud earlier this month.
The California Department of Insurance initiated an investigation in May 2012 based on a tip from California State Automobile Association Insurance Group. CSAA IG
received a homeowner’s insurance claim from Hooks for the theft of the three unidentified Mantle cards, he valued at approximately $20,500. The company reported their suspicions to the department after Hooks gave numerous inconsistent statements regarding how the baseball cards were acquired, their purchase price and the method of payment.
“The dishonesty of insurance fraud is shocking in itself, but the fact that this was perpetrated by a law enforcement officer is heinous and unconscionable,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Taking advantage of an insurer by filing false claims contributes to inflating costs and increases in premiums.”
Investigators say Hooks changed the purchase dates of the cards three times during the course of the claim. They say he also changed his story regarding the details of the purchase including the identity of individuals that traveled with him during the purchase of the baseball cards.
Officers say he once told them he had purchased the cards at the March 2012 Industry Summit in Las Vegas, a convention that is closed to the general public. Department detectives determined on the two dates on which Hooks claimed he purchased the baseball cards in Las Vegas he was either on duty as a police officer for the City of Tracy or vacationing in South Lake Tahoe.
Investigators say it wasn’t the first time Hooks claimed to have had cards stolen.
In one of Hooks’ previous homeowner’s claims filed in 2008, he reported the loss of over 100 baseball cards valued from $10 to $6,000 each and received a payout of over $14,000. Investigators say Hooks has received over $56,000 from five homeowner’s insurance claims filed due to the reported loss of personal property from theft.
Sentencing was expected to include a minimum of four years felony probation and an order to pay $7,055 in restitution as well as court fines.