October 25, 2020

Man pleads guilty to wire fraud in scheme with deputy to steal from insurance company

A Woodville man pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court Monday for his part in a scheme to collect insurance money for an ATV he reported had been stolen.

Kelvin Tolliver, 54, pleaded guilty to wire fraud before Judge David C. Bramlette on Monday morning in U.S. Southern District Court Western Division.

Tolliver was indicted in March along with Wilkinson County Deputy Sheriff Christopher James, 43, on conspiracy and wire fraud charges.

The indictment alleges the two conspired to defraud Mississippi Farm Bureau by submitting a false offense report through the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office, “stating Tolliver’s ATV had been stolen when, in fact, the ATV had not been stolen.”

“James used his position as a Wilkinson County Deputy Sheriff to prepare and submit the false offense report, which was used to obtain over $12,000 in insurance proceeds,” U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. said at the time of the indictment.

In exchange for pleading guilty to wire fraud, prosecutors dropped the conspiracy charge against Tolliver, said U.S. Attorney Carla J. Clark.

If the case had gone to trial, Clark said, prosecutors would have been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tolliver had falsified the report of the stolen ATV to collect insurance for the ATV he owned.

“Tolliver talked on the telephone several times to work out the details,” Clark said, adding Tolliver worked with the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office to file the false report.

Clark said telephone calls were recorded by the U.S. Attorney’s office, and they could prove that Tolliver used a fax machine to transmit the fraudulent report across state lines to St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bramlette said conviction of the wire fraud charge carries a maximum of not more than 20 years in prison and three years supervised release.

Bramlette set an Aug. 13 sentencing hearing for Tolliver.

James’ case is scheduled to go to trial in Bramlette’s courtroom on May 6.