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Wednesday, 08 April 2015 00:00

PA Officer Charged with Insurance Fraud, Theft after Taking ATV from Police Impound

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced on April 7 the arrest of a Blair County man accused of stealing an all-terrain vehicle from a police impound lot and committing insurance fraud to keep the vehicle in his possession.

Otto Gilden Barton II, 61, 2263 Ponderosa Drive, Logan Township, is charged with one count each of insurance fraud, theft and unauthorized use of an automobile.

According to a criminal complaint, Barton is a police officer with the Logan Township Police Department. He investigated a traffic crash in 2008 involving the ATV, which had been reported stolen a year earlier. Allstate Insurance paid a claim to the vehicle’s owner after the theft and became the titleholder for the ATV, investigators reported.

Following the crash, the vehicle was transported by a private towing company to the township police impound lot. Investigators said their investigation revealed Barton later asked the owner of the towing company to prepare a false receipt for $1,000 to cover “towing and storage” of the ATV. The owner told investigators Barton led him to believe township police were attempting to obtain ownership of the ATV for the department’s use.

Later, a claims official with Allstate told investigators someone who identified himself as “the shop” called Allstate and said the charges for the ATV were $1,000. The person told the claims official he would accept the ATV in lieu of payment, investigators were told.

An interview with the owner of the towing service determined he never spoke with the insurance company and was never paid the $210 he was owed for towing the vehicle to the police impound lot in 2008.

Meanwhile, the investigation revealed the ATV had never been signed out of the police impound lot’s log book. Moreover, Barton was spotted with the ATV in the bed of his truck when he came to work and at his family’s funeral home business, investigators learned. He also was found in possession of the ATV when he was interviewed by investigators, the criminal complaint alleges.

Barton’s bail was set at $25,000 unsecured at his preliminary arraignment today before Magisterial District Judge Craig E. Ormsby. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 16.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Pennsylvania State Police for its assistance with the investigation.

The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Kara Cotter, of the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

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