STOCKTON — Six witnesses testified for the prosecution as the trial of a Tracy husband and wife charged with insurance fraud and embezzlement began Friday, July 19, in San Joaquin County Superior Court.
William Tipton and Frayba Tipton are charged with making a fraudulent claim for insurance payment, perjury, insurance fraud and embezzlement.
Insurance fraud investigators reported that William Tipton told bank officials that he stopped making loan payments for a 2004 Mustang Cobra because it was destroyed when his house at 27771 S. Fagan Road caught fire on July 5, 2008.
During the trial, Detective Scott Edelen, of the State of California Department of Insurance Fraud Division, told Prosecutor J.C. Weydert that investigators recovered the undamaged 2004 Mustang
during a warranted search at the Tiptons’ house on June 14, 2012.
He said they also seized two other vehicles, a 2006 Ford F250 pickup and a 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra, also for alleged payment default.
During the search, Edelen said investigators saw the pickup in the driveway and found the two Mustangs in the garage. All three were on his seizure list.
Maria Ramirez, a former financial protection specialist for Tracy Federal Credit Union, now Valley First Credit Union, testified that William Tipton spoke to her at the bank shortly after the fire. She said he wanted to discuss his lack of loan payments on the 2004 Mustang, telling her and another employee, Millie Gonzalez, that the car was damaged in the fire.
During the bank’s investigation, Ramirez said investigators saw a burned vehicle frame inside the Tiptons’ garage and believed it was the 2004 Mustang. She said they found out later that it was the body of an SUV.
Under cross examination by defense attorney Russell Humphrey, Ramirez said William Tipton had paid half the money he owed on the 2004 Mustang before he defaulted on the loan.
The owner of Anthony’s Auto Body and Paint on Chrisman Road, Anthony Kronenderger, testified that the 2004 Mustang was in his business garage at the time of the fire. He said the car had a work authorization order to repair a door lock issued on July 2, 2008, and his paperwork showed it was picked up July 11, 2008.
Tracy Fire Department Engineer Dan Peeler, an arson investigator for the department, confirmed on the stand that the vehicle destroyed in the fire was not the 2004 Mustang but an SUV.
Peeler told Weydert he was at the Tiptons’ house to take samples to determine if any liquids or other substances might have caused the fire. Neither lawyer asked him about the findings of his investigation.
Weydert told Judge Lauren Thomasson that he anticipated calling three more prosecution witnesses, and Humphrey said he planned to call Frayba Tipton as the first witness for the defense.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, in Department 14 in Stockton superior court.
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