Texas HHS director charged with insurance fraud

A Texas HHS director is facing charges for alleged auto insurance fraud related to a car fire in March, according to a Travis County arrest warrant obtained by NBC affiliate KXAN.

The warrant for Jerrod Holton was issued May 13, saying Mr. Holton knowingly provided false or misleading information about the fire. HHS said it was looking into the arrest and confirmed with KXAN that the agency employs an individual named Jerrod Holton as a director in its Texas Access and Eligibility Services office.

Mr. Holton's attorney told KXAN "we are confident that the evidence will prove his innocence," and that his client "denies all criminal allegations related to this matter."

Mr. Holton was booked in the Travis County Jail on May 13 and released on a $5,000 bond.

Mr. Holton has been accused of fraud before. Between 2003 and 2009, he was charged in Florida with three separate counts of fraud and one count of passing a false check. The fraud charges were dismissed and adjudication was withheld on the check offense, according to KXAN.

The May 13 arrest warrant stems from when the Austin Fire Department found a Jeep on fire in an empty lot March 15. Investigators said the cause of the fire was incendiary after finding an unburned piece of a fuel container inside the car.

Mr. Holton, the Jeep's owner, reported it stolen three hours after the fire. He told police he also reported the car stolen to insurance. In a video-recorded interview, Mr. Holton told the fire department where he had left the car, that he accidentally left it unlocked and with the keys inside. 

The fire department then collected video surveillance, toll records and cellphone data from that day and determined it did not match the information Mr. Holton provided. The toll records also made it "physically impossible" for Mr. Holton's timeline to be plausible.

"No Jeep Grand Cherokee is ever observed parked in front of this location," an officer wrote on the arrest warrant, according to KXAN.

Mr. Holton was asked about these discoveries in a follow-up interview with investigators.

"Holton confessed to having lied to investigators about his activities and knowledge of the events involving his Jeep Grand Cherokee," according to court documents obtained by KXAN.

Investigators spoke with Mr. Holton's insurance company and confirmed he gave false statements under oath. The vehicle had full coverage and was valued at around $16,000.

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