Former San Jacinto firefighter and wife sentenced to 4 years prison after insurance scam
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif., — A Cal Fire-Riverside firefighter and his wife were both sentenced to four years in state prison yesterday after the couple pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to a 2015 attempted insurance scam. According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the scam involved a pickup truck Eric Jabbar Norwood, 51, and Linda Lee Norwood, 57, both of Hemet, have since admitted to setting ablaze in the Valle Vista area of Hemet. The couple was attempting to get out from under an $830 monthly payment they could no longer afford, according to prosecutors.
Another person, Keanna Taylor Norwood, was also sentenced to 90 days in jail and one year of probation after pleading guilty last month to being an accessory to the crime.
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Riverside Superior Court records show the couple both pleaded guilty in court yesterday to felony charges of filing a false claim of property loss, filing a false insurance claim, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and arson.
In addition being sentenced to prison, the former firefighter – who spent eight years assigned to Cal Fire’s San Jacinto Fire Station 25 – was also ordered to pay more than $60,000 in restitution, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall has said.
Eric Norwood, 51, of Hemet, was sentenced to four years in state prison after pleading guilty to multiple felonies related to a 2015 insurance scam. His wife was also sentenced to four years in prison, while another family member pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the scam and was sentenced to three months in jail.
The investigation into the couple’s attempted insurance fraud began when the pair sought an insurance payout after Norwood claimed his pickup truck had been stolen. The couple’s vehicle was discovered burning in the orange groves at Fairview and Stetson avenues, near the Hemet-Valle Vista Sheriff’s Station, around 3 a.m. on May 10, 2015.
Although he claimed the vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot of the San Jacinto fire station, Hall said the couple’s cell phones showed otherwise.
Although the couples’ cell phones had both been scrubbed of all records of calls, texts and data covering a two-month period – including the dates of and surrounding the fire, officials were able to retrieve enough information to prove their case against the pair, as well as the other family member who pleaded guilty in September to being an accessory to the scam.
A search warrant affidavit indicated that evidence recovered from the phones showed Eric had researched the value of the truck and whether insurance covered theft and/or vandalism, as well as new vehicles he might be able to purchase with the insurance payout the couple was hoping for.
Online jail records indicate the couple remains in custody, while awaiting transfer to prison.
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Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.
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