COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - COLUMBIA – Two men involved in a 2008 bizarre fraud case costing a third man his left hand were sentenced in federal court Friday.
David Player, 58, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, and Gerald Hardin, 35, was sentenced to three years after both men pleaded guilty earlier this year in the fraud case.
In May 2008 in Sumter, Player was described by prosecutor Winston Holliday as being the "mastermind" in the case and persuaded 52-year-old Michael Weaver to allow Hardin to sever his left arm in order to get insurance money.
After becoming intoxicated, Weaver and Hardin performed the act, ultimately moving along on Player's plan.
WIS previously reported that Hardin and Player took Weaver to Toumey Medical Center, claiming they were cutting tree branches with a pole saw when it slipped and cut off Weaver's hand. Instead, federal investigators said Player and Hardin tied Weaver's arm to a tree branch and sawed off the hand with a pole saw.
Player then filed an insurance claim as Weaver's power of attorney, and the insurance company settled the case for $375,000. Several more checks were then sent out by Hartford insurance company, totaling $671,125. Player has been ordered to repay that amount in restitution.
How the restitution will be divided will be revisited at a hearing in 90 days once all claims are reviewed.
Federal officials previously told WIS that Player used the money to buy a house for his son, build a storage unit on his property and buy a Dodge Dakota for Hardin.
"Player made decisions to use policies, recruit accomplices, planned and organized the incident," said Judge Cameron McGowan Currie. "He controlled the funds from start to finish. (Holliday's)assessment of Player as the mastermind is accurate."
Player and Hardin, who appeared in court separately Friday, each apologized to the court and their families for their actions.
"This is the most aggravated fraud case I've ever seen,"Currie said.
Once Player is released from prison, he will be on three years probation, while undergoing drug testing and conspiracy and credit counseling. Hardin, who has been out on bond, will also have three years probation upon his release from prison, when he will also have to participate in a substance abuse treatment program.