Crooks fingered for sawing Porky’s hand

By James Quiggle
January 29, 2013

choppedhandPorky only dimly grasped what David Player and Gerald “Trey” Hardin wanted to do: saw off his right hand for $671,000 in homeowners and disability insurance money.

Porky literally gave them a helping hand.

The insurance scheme was a betrayal of what the Sumter County, S.C. man thought was a deep friendship with Player, who strung him along to set up the con.

Michael “Porky” Weaver is severely mentally handicapped and illiterate. Player and Porky had grown up together. Player was a father figure to him. He depended on Player for many of his personal needs and emotional support. Player even had Porky’s power of attorney.

That close tie was enough to convince Porky that the grisly insurance plot was legitimate. The money would come from homeowner and disability policies Player had bought in Porky’s name.

Player was the brains behind the brainless scheme. He and Hardin promised Porky merely a down payment on a truck and some rent money. That was plenty enough, Porky reasoned.

They drank booze to prepare for the gruesome deed. Hardin, who’s a tree trimmer, tied Weaver’s arm to a tree limb with rags. He sliced off Porky’s hand using a trimmer with a gas-powered, eight-inch chainsaw blade at the end of a pole.

Player wrapped a tourniquet around his arm and rushed him to the hospital. Doctors tried unsuccessfully to reattach Porky’s hand.

Player lied to the insurance companies that the wound was an accident. The blade fell on Porky during a tree-trimming job and lopped off his arm as he struggled, he insisted.

The Hartford paid out $375,000 in homeowner insurance money and $296,000 from coverage for accidental death and dismemberment.

Player ended up with most of the money under his power of attorney. Porky received only enough to buy some beer and cigarettes, prosecutors said.

Player lived off the insurance money for several years and bought luxury goods. He also built an auto repair shop, and paid for his divorce. Another chunk of the money paid for the attorney he hired to engineer the insurance payouts.

The scheme began unraveling during Player’s divorce. His wife discovered a briefcase containing several dozen credit cards Player had taken out in Porky’s name. He’d used the credit cards to pay for the insurance. His wife handed over the cards to her lawyer, who went to the FBI.

And the wound was a gruesome giveaway to fraud, prosecutors argued at their trial. The cut would’ve been more ragged as he struggled with the buzzing saw in a real tree-trimming accident.

Hardin’s excuse was flabby. “I was on drugs real bad at the time,” Hardin said in telling the judge of his addiction to crack cocaine. “I asked Porky if he wanted to do that. I didn’t want to do it, really.”

Porky’s helping hand netted Player 14 years in federal prison, and Hardin three years and five months.

The luckless Porky now wears a hook, and wasn’t prosecuted because of his mental disability.

“Mr. Weaver benefitted, if anything, very little. He still lives in the same camper he always did. It’s a hovel. I don’t know how he lives there,” testified FBI agent Ron Grosse, the lead investigator. “Player gave him money for beer and cigarettes and maybe a little bit of food — the rest of it was used by Mr. Player.”

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