The discovery of thick wads of $100 bills $270,000 worth bundled in tinfoil and stuffed in a canvas bag wrapped in duct tape is the latest turn of events in the federal criminal case involving an amputated hand.
The money has been entered into evidence and is now in the FBIs custody, Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said Wednesday in an interview.
The cash was located last week in the possession of a mentally handicapped Sumter, S.C., man whose left hand was lopped off as part of a bizarre scheme to defraud The Hartford insurance company of $671,000, according to documents on file in federal court.
The discovery of the cash follows the guilty plea earlier this month by David Player, 58, also of Sumter, who confessed during his plea hearing that he was the instigator of the 2008 plot to cut off the hand of Michael Porky Weaver in order to collect insurance.
Weaver, 52, who is severely mentally handicapped, depended on Player to care for many financial and emotional needs, according to court testimony. Weavers left arm was severed in the plot with a chain saw between the wrist and elbow. He now wears a hook.
Player already had spent some $371,000 of the insurance proceeds on things like lawyers fees for his divorce, but $300,000 was unaccounted for. Now, all but about $30,000 has been accounted for. The just-found $270,000 will be turned over to the insurance company at some point.
After pleading guilty at a Sept. 13 hearing, Player was allowed by U.S. Judge Cameron McGowan Currie to remain free on $100,000 bond pending a Dec. 14 sentencing. He faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud, the legal term for receiving illegal insurance payments through the mail.
As part of Players being free until December, Currie ruled he couldnt contact Weaver.
Also at Players Sept. 13 hearing, Currie quizzed Player on the whereabouts of $300,000 the unaccounted for cash in the scheme. Player told Currie he had given the money to Weaver months ago but didnt know where it was.
However, newly filed documents and testimony in federal court allege that hours after his Sept. 13 guilty plea hearing, Player went to Sumter and gave Weaver $270,000 in wrapped-up cash. Player also made arrangements for Weaver to deposit the cash in a bank the morning of Sept. 14.
That morning, when Weaver arrived at the bank, bank officials refused to let him deposit any money.
Also that morning, Weaver talked to his attorney, Edye Moran of Columbia, and told Moran he had a bundle of cash Player had given to him. Moran then called federal law officers in Columbia. The officers, including FBI agent Ron Grosse, the lead agent on the amputated-hand case, immediately got a search warrant for the money and drove to Sumter.
Player, accompanied by his attorney, Mike Duncan of Columbia, turned himself in to federal officials on Sept. 17. After hearing testimony that Player had been in touch with Weaver, Currie revoked Players bond. He is now in a local jail.
According to undisputed evidence in the case, Player persuaded another man, Gerald Hardin, to use a chain saw to cut off Weavers hand in May 2008.
The amputation took place on Players property after the two men tied Weavers arm to a tree with rags. Player and Hardin then took Weaver to a local hospital, telling nurses and doctors that Weavers hand was cut off by accident as they were trimming trees.
According to their story, the pole saw (a chain saw attached to a long pole) slipped and cut Weavers hand off, FBI agent Grosse said in an affidavit in the case.
Within months, Player was able to get one payment of $375,000 in homeowners insurance money paid to him by The Hartford.
Player also had taken out accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies on Weaver, for whom he had exercised power of attorney for many years. The Hartford sent Weaver $296,000 in dismemberment insurance money. Player took that money, making a total of $671,000 in illegally-gotten insurance.
Weaver and Hardin made very little money on the scheme, and Player made off with the bulk of the money, according to court testimony.
Hardin pleaded guilty in August and will be sentenced later this year.
By all accounts, Weaver did not object to the scheme that Player, whom he regarded as a father figure, came up with. Federal officials said they did not bring charges against Weaver because of his diminished mental capacity.
Assistant U.S. attorney Holliday said in his years of prosecuting crimes, Weve never had a case like this.