A Safford man who didn't want to continue to make payments on a sport utility vehicle he gave to his ex-wife faces a possible prison sentence after he allegedly hired a person to steal and wreck it to collect the insurance money.
Andrew Scott Bell, 25, was arrested Thursday, the day after he reported his 2007 Ford Expedition stolen. Unbeknownst to Bell, the Safford Police Department, with the assistance of the Graham County Sheriff's Office, had obtained a video recording in which Bell seemingly instructs a would-be accomplice to take and wreck the vehicle.
In video and audio recordings, Bell offers to pay $500 and numerous Soma pills, which are prescription muscle relaxants. Bell is shown giving the man $5 and 10 Soma pills as a down payment. It also shows Bell suggesting the man run the SUV into a tree by placing a brick on the gas pedal and then use the brick to break out the ignition. Bell gave the Expedition to his ex-wife, but it was still registered in his name and he was paying the $550 monthly payment. He petitioned to have his marriage dissolved in May, and the Graham County Superior Court granted the request Aug. 31.
After learning of the conspiracy, Safford detectives contacted Bell's ex-wife and informed her of his plan. She agreed to allow detectives to secure the SUV in Safford's yard and call Bell and tell him the SUV was missing. During their phone conversation Wednesday, Bell's ex-wife asked him if he had taken the vehicle. Bell denied involvement in the SUV's disappearance and said he had just made a payment on it that day. He later called the Safford Police Department and reported it stolen. After doing so, Bell then made a stolen vehicle claim with his insurance company.
The next day, Bell agreed to speak with a Safford detective regarding his case. When asked if he paid someone to get rid of the SUV, Bell requested to speak to an attorney. The detective told Bell he had recordings of conversations regarding the conspiracy and placed him under arrest. Bell was walked over the the Graham County Jail and booked on charges of false reporting, fraudulent schemes and artifices, defrauding a secured creditor, solicitation, conspiracy and transfer of a narcotic.