(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a Bonner County man was sentenced Monday, November 23, for insurance fraud.
42-year-old Jesse J. Bennett, of Sandpoint, pleaded guilty in September.
First District Court Judge Barbara Buchanan withheld judgment and sentenced Bennett to two years of felony probation, 10 days in the county’s inmate labor program, 30 days of discretionary jail time, 100 hours of community service, as well as a $300 fine and court costs. Bennett is also required to pay restitution to Austin Mutual Insurance Company in the amount of $5,979 and $1,231 to the Idaho Department of Insurance.
An investigation revealed that in February 2018 Bennett reported to his homeowner’s insurance company, Austin Mutual Insurance Company, that his Sandpoint home had suffered roof damage from a storm on December 21, 2017. In support of his claim, Bennett submitted photos of the purported damage. Metadata found on the photos indicated they were taken in 2008, 2013 and 2016, which preceded the policy and Bennett’s ownership of the home.
When investigators performed a Google search for photos of hail damage, they identified two images very similar to those Bennett submitted. The photos contained the same metadata information, as well. Separately, a structural engineer hired by the insurance company concluded that damage to the rooftop was caused by the repeated striking of several different types of tools or implements and not by a storm.
Deputy Attorneys General Jessica Cafferty and David Morse in the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted the case. The Idaho Department of Insurance investigated.