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Turn It In Or Torch It?

Two men face charges of insurance fraud after police said they conspired together to destroy a vehicle up for repossession in December.

Eric Lee Dreibelbis, 48, of Monroe Township, and his nephew, Michael Lee Bailey, 46, of no fixed address, were charged Wednesday with insurance fraud, reckless burning of property or vehicle, theft by deception, false reports and conspiracy stemming from a Dec. 19 incident.

State Police said in an affidavit that Dreibelbis called police at 9:21 a.m. Dec. 20 to report that his Jeep was stolen, adding it had been locked and he had both keys in his possession. He told police he had called the bank, too, since it may have been repossessed due to him only making a partial payment earlier that week.

The Jeep was located that afternoon by State Police at Rockview in Centre County. It was destroyed, and police were investigating it as an arson, according to the affidavit.

A week after contacting police, Dreibelbis called them to say his second key to the Jeep was missing and that he may have left it in the vehicle.

Police interviewed Dreibelbis’ nephew, Bailey, who reported living at his uncle’s residence for a few months. He said he was at his brother’s house for a party on the night of the theft, not returning until 10 a.m. Dec. 20, after police were initially called to the home, police said.

In an interview in January, Dreibelbis admitted that he moved to Monroe Township two years ago from the area where the vehicle was recovered and that he still has family in that area.

According to the affidavit, he also admitted that the week the vehicle was stolen, he received a letter from PSECU about it being repossessed if he did not catch up on his payments.

In March, police talked to a PSECU loan fraud investigator, who said PSECU was out about $21,000 as a result of this case and sent documents that showed Dreibelbis made two auto loan applications within two weeks that stated his income almost doubled while still being self-employed during both applications, according to the affidavit.

Police received phone records of Bailey and Dreibelbis in May, which they submitted for mapping analysis. The analysis showed Bailey driving up to where the Jeep was found in Centre County before driving back. Phone records showed Bailey received several calls from Dreibelbis just prior to the Jeep being reported stolen, the affidavit said.

Dreibelbis was arraigned Thursday in front of Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin, who set bail at $8,000 cash, which he posted. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Bailey has not yet been arraigned on charges, as of Friday morning.

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