Former Norfolk Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud
NORFOLK, Va., - Ethan Jason Love, 26, of Portsmouth, Va., pled guilty today in Norfolk federal court to mail fraud charges in connection with a false insurance claim. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and FBI Norfolk’s Special Agent in Charge, A.J. Turner, made the announcement after Love entered his guilty plea before United States Magistrate Judge F. Bradford Stillman. Love will be sentenced by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis on June 22, 2010.
According to court documents, in July 2009, Love, who was then a Norfolk
Police Officer, owned a 2000 Mercedes Benz, Model S430 sedan; the car was
insured with Nationwide General Insurance Company (Nationwide). Love’s Mercedes
had a lien on it requiring Love to make monthly payments. Love considered
having someone destroy the car, but instead decided to do it himself.
With the assistance of a friend, Love purchased some tools and spray paint on the evening of July 18, 2009. They then used the tools to vandalize the car, and also spray painted the car with gang graffiti to make it appear that a street gang was responsible for the damage. Love and his friend removed the newly purchased tires and rims from the Mercedes before abandoning the vandalized car in the early morning hours of July 19, 2009 in the Churchland section of Portsmouth. When Love returned to his home the next morning, he had voice mails from his Norfolk Police supervisors and also from the Portsmouth Police regarding his abandoned car. Love returned the call from the Portsmouth Police and told the investigating officer that his car had been stolen from his residence sometime on the evening of July 18th.
After reporting the theft of his car to the Portsmouth Police, Love called Nationwide to make an insurance claim for his extensively damaged car. Shortly thereafter, Love gave a recorded statement to a Nationwide claims adjuster, stating that his car had been stolen and vandalized while he was in Virginia Beach with a cousin. Nationwide sent Love an Affidavit of Theft form. In the affidavit, Love claimed that he left his car at his residence on July 18, 2009 at 9:45 or 10:00 p.m. and went to Virginia Beach with his cousin. On July 27, 2009, Love mailed his signed and notarized affidavit by U.S. mail to the Nationwide Claims Department in Dublin, Ohio. The lien holder on the Mercedes received a sum of money from Nationwide as payment of his fraudulent automobile theft and damage claim. Love resigned from the Norfolk Police Department shortly before entering into a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Portsmouth Police Department Gang Suppression Unit. The Norfolk Police Department was fully apprised of and fully cooperated in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen W. Haynie is prosecuting the case for the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.