An insurance scheme gone awry has left two South Carolinians with blood on their hands after allegedly conducting an amputation on a third party with a rudimentary yard tool.
According to the federal indictment, Gerald B. Hardin, 34, and another, currently unnamed male severed an acquaintance's hand with a pole saw (a small chain saw attached to a pole used to cut tree branches) in an attempt to collect benefits on three accidental death and dismemberment policies, as well as the homeowners’ insurance policy at the Sumter County, South Carolina home where the incident occurred.
The name of the homeowner has not yet been released. What we do know, however, is that the man who suffered the hackneyed amputation was later transported to a local hospital, where surgeons attempted—unsuccessfully—to reattach his hand.
So how much does a hand fetch these days anyway? Well, according to authorities, the three received a little more than $671,000 from the combined policies in this not so garden variety accident. It remains unlikely that any of them will get to enjoy their respective “cut” of the ill-gotten gains. The man with the severed hand is already suffering the consequences each day, but Hardin’s day of reckoning, for one, has been much longer in coming.
Some time passed after the perpetration of the crime before the FBI received a tip about the alleged insurance fraud scheme. Federal prosecutors report that Hardin and his accomplice sawed off the hand of the third party all the way back in May 2008.
Following an investigation by the FBI, Hardin opted to turn himself in, later posting a $100,000 bond for release from a county detention center. This is clearly not Hardin's first brush with the law, as the Cayce, South Carolina man's rap sheet includes charges of assault, drugs, criminal domestic violence, and multiple DUI convictions. Currently he is charged with six crimes, including insurance fraud, for which he could spend 20 years in jail and pay as much as $250,000 in fines if found guilty. In addition, pending a conviction, the court could ask that Hardin pay restitution in the amount of the insurance payouts.
Amazingly, this is not the first time PropertyCasualty360.com has reported that someone forfeited a body part, a hand specifically, in exchange for an insurance payout. For more baffling tales of desperate fraudsters, visit the Investigative & Forensics channel.