AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas Health and Human Services director is accused of insurance fraud related to a car fire in March, according to an arrest warrant.
The Travis County arrest warrant for Jerrod Wytez Holton was issued May 13, and it said Holton knowingly provided false or misleading information about the fire.
HHS told KXAN it is looking into the matter and confirmed it has an employee named Jerrod W. Holton who serves as a Director II for the Texas HHS Access and Eligibility services division.
HHS told KXAN that Holton was placed on leave as of Wednesday May 18.
Joseph Aragon, Holton’s attorney, said his client, “denies all criminal allegations related to this matter.”
“We are confident that the evidence will prove his innocence,” Aragon said.
According to the affidavit, the Austin Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle fire in an empty lot around 12 p.m. on March 15. When firefighters arrived, they found a Jeep Grand Cherokee fully in flames.
The affidavit reports once the fire was out, investigators discovered an unburned portion of a red plastic fuel container inside the car and determined the cause of the fire to be incendiary.
Approximately three hours after AFD responded to the vehicle fire, the affidavit said the Jeep’s owner, later identified as Holton, called 911 to report it had been stolen. The caller told police he also reported the SUV stolen to insurance, according to the affidavit.
In a video-recorded interview, Holton told APD where he left the car before it was stolen and that he had accidentally left the doors unlocked with the key fob inside the car, according to the affidavit.
Throughout the course of the investigation, the affidavit states that APD obtained video surveillance, toll road usage records and cell phone data from the day the vehicle was stolen and set on fire.
According to the affidavit, APD’s evidence did not match the information Holton provided.
The officer said he obtained three separate video surveillance recordings from the location and time Holton told them the Jeep was stolen.
“No Jeep Grand Cherokee is ever observed parked in front of this location,” the officer reported.
Additionally, the officer found that the toll records made it “physically impossible” for Holton to have returned to the vehicle and found it missing before making the report, according to the warrant.
According to court records, the officer conducted a follow-up interview confronting Holton with the information investigators found.
“Holton confessed to having lied to investigators about his activities and knowledge of the events involving his Jeep Grand Cherokee,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit reports the officer spoke with Holton’s insurance company and confirmed Holton provided false statements under oath. The insurance company stated the vehicle had full coverage and was valued at approximately $16,000.
KXAN’s investigation found this is not the first time this suspect has been accused of crimes related to fraud. From 2003 to 2009, Holton was charged in Florida with three separate counts of fraud and one count of passing a worthless bank check. The fraud charges were ultimately dismissed and the adjudication was withheld on the passing a worthless check offense, according to Florida court records.
Holton was booked in the Travis County Jail on May 13, and was released on a $5,000 bond.