St. Croix couple facing fraud, forgery charges turn themselves in to police


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ST. CROIX - A Frederiksted couple turned themselves in to police early Friday morning after learning that a warrant had been issued for their arrest, charging them with forgery, insurance fraud and attempted grand larceny.

Aswad Petersen and his, wife Kavida Petersen, both of Estate Whim appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho hours later in V.I. Superior Court and were advised of their rights in connection with a police report filed in September 2012.

Camacho advised Kavida Petersen that she was being charged with making a fraudulent insurance claim and attempted grand larceny, which each carry maximum penalties of five years in prison.

Camacho advised Aswad Petersen that he was being charged with forgery and filing false documents, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if he is tried and convicted on both charges.

According to the affidavit filed by V.I. Police Detective Mark Corniero, a senior investigator for USAA Insurance Company in San Antonio, Texas, filed a report with the V.I. Police Department in September, reporting that on Aug. 15, 2012, Kavida Petersen had a policy for a 2007 Nissan Altima and wanted to add her husband's Suzuki Vitara to the policy. The USAA investigator said she then reported a loss claim Aug. 30, 2012.

Corniero said Kavida Petersen reported a car fire to police at 2:34 a.m. Aug. 15, 2012, and then called to insure the vehicle just more than 12 hours later, after the vehicle had already been burned.

Corniero said the USAA investigator provided police with proof of insurance information, appraisal information and other information provided by the couple that included items of value installed in the vehicle before the fire.

Corniero said that during the course of his investigation he realized that Aswad Petersen had proof of insurance information for the Vitara from another company that turned out to be fraudulent, and the company did not have any records of coverage for him. The investigation also revealed that a second vehicle that Aswad Petersen owned, a Chevy Cavalier, was not insured and that insurance information that he had provided to the V.I. Motor Vehicle Bureau had been forged.

According to the police report, Corniero said the night of the vehicle fire, Aswad Petersen told the fire marshal and police officer that his vehicle was insured by USAA, but it was not.

During the advice-of-rights hearing Friday, Camacho set bail at $40,000 each for the couple. He allowed them to be released upon the signing of an unsecured bond in the amount of bail. He also allowed them to continue living together at their home, but each had a third-party custodian who is responsible to ensure they abide by the conditions of release.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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