JASPER COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Bond has been set for two men, including a former Heidelberg police officer, indicted after an investigation by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office uncovered an alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Former police officer Dezmond Cooley, 30, and Elbert Benton, 31, had their initial court appearances Thursday morning. Cooley is charged with conspiracy and alteration of record. Benton is charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy. Judge Stanley Sorey set bond for both men at $20,000.
According to Attorney General Jim Hood, the indictment alleges Cooley created and altered a fraudulent uniform crash report from a traffic accident involving Benton.
Hood said court documents show the crash happened on Jan. 19. 2018, and Benton was not insured at the time.
The indictment alleges Cooley altered the report to show the crash happened on Feb. 11, 2018, after Benton obtained insurance covered. Benton received insurance benefits as a result of the fraudulent report, Hood said.
Cooley and Benton were arrested Tuesday and booked into the Jasper County Jail. If convicted, Cooley faces up to 15 years in prison and Benton faces up to eight years behind bars.