Weatherford man charged with big insurance fraud
Cody Edward Watson, 32, of Weatherford, is facing three felony charges stemming from his alleged attempt to bilk an insurance company out of $31,690.
Information filed with the charges says Watson told the insurer, Progressive Insurance Co., that someone had stolen his 2015 Chevrolet Silverado pickup when in fact he had “given” it to a friend in Texas with permission to drive it as he wished. Patricia Konyla of Progressive discovered the address in Fort Worth where it was being kept by using On-Star GPS coordinates.
Watson is charged with filing a false claim for insurance, conspiracy, and false reporting of a crime. A warrant for his arrest was still outstanding Monday.
The conspiracy charge is for allegedly telling police the pickup had been stolen when he had “given” it to Brad Dixon of Fort Worth.
Detective Jeremy Anderson worked the case for the Weatherford Police Department. He wrote an affidavit of probable cause stating that Watson had reported the pickup stolen June 15. The affidavit said he claimed he had left it that day in a private parking lot at 1301 N. Airport Rd. because he was too intoxicated to drive home and when he returned the next day, somebody had stolen it.
Progressive Insurance meantime advised that a claim had been filed on it for approximately $35,000.
Ten days later a “hit” was made on the pickup by the Fort Worth Police Department. Officer Drew Hernandez told Weatherford police it had been found parked at 2351 Honeycomb Court and appeared to have been there for some time. He said there were no signs of forced entry but the license plate had been removed.
Detective Anderson called Watson and told him the pickup had been recovered from in front of a house in Fort Worth. The affidavit said a former co-worker of Watson’s named Brad Dixon lived there.
A short time later, said the affidavit, Watson’s wife, Kori Watson, called Anderson and told him Dixon had recently gotten out of prison and she and her husband hadn’t seen him in months. She said they knew him from when they lived in Pennsylvania six or seven years earlier.
The affidavit indicated she seemed irritated that the pickup’s GPS location was just now being checked, and her husband seemed irritated as well.
In Fort Worth, Dixon apparently had contacted Officer Hernandez who called Detective Anderson. The affidavit said Dixon told Hernandez one of Watson’s “boys” had dropped the pickup off at his house and told him he could drive it. That happened near the end of June, he said, and he had not contacted Watson personally to get permission to drive it because he thought insurance had already taken care of it.
Hernandez asked Dixon why the tag had been removed and why he hadn’t contacted Watson for over a month while the pickup sat in his (Dixon’s) driveway. The affidavit said Dixon had no answer.
Anderson, the Weatherford detective, then spoke with Dixon by phone. Initially, said the affidavit, Dixon told him Watson’s cousin had dropped the pickup off at his house. Then, continues the affidavit, Dixon changed his story and said he had met Watson at a travel-stop bar in Weatherford (Okla.) and the defendant had told him to take the pickup to Texas and drive it.
Eventually, continued Detective Anderson’s affidavit, Dixon admitted he and Watson had conspired to commit insurance fraud. He allegedly said this was not long after he had been released from prison and Watson had called him and laid out the plan.
He said Watson told him once he got the insurance check, he (Dixon) could do whatever he wanted with the pickup as “payment” for his help. Dixon said he offered to take over payments on the truck but Watson said no.
Meantime, Officer Hernandez was still working on the case in Fort Worth. The affidavit said he got text messages sent to Dixon by the defendant and one of them said, “I’m not showing anything on my end.” Dixon allegedly said this referred to Watson unplugging the On-Star system to make sure the vehicle couldn’t be tracked.
In another message dated June 14, Watson allegedly told Dixon he was going to report the vehicle stolen at 10 o’clock the next morning. Dixon said he subsequently received a text message from Watson that read, “It’s hot,” which meant the defendant had reported it stolen.
Another message from the defendant allegedly read, “Fold the tag and throw it away, or take it off at least.” Another read, “Keep that bitch parked until it’s time.”
“It appears the defendant and Brad (Dixon) are very close,” read the affidavit.
It concludes by saying Progressive Insurance has a claim showing the pickup was reported stolen on June 15, 2018, and listing the settlement value at $31,690.
Watson has no prior charges relating to insurance fraud, it says.
No conspiracy charge had been filed as of Monday against Dixon in Custer County. Detective Anderson was not in Monday, but one of his co-workers – Detective Lt. Chris Cote – told the Clinton Daily News that while it’s not his case, he knows of no conspiracy charge being filed against Dixon in Texas, either.
A warrant for Watson’s arrest on the three felony charges was issued last Wednesday (Oct. 3) with Special District Judge Donna Dirickson setting his bond at $10,000 if and when he is arrested.