Curtis Huff Jr. charged with insurance fraud

A Vero Beach man who has served time for attempted murder and been a suspect in two others has been charged with insurance fraud greater than $100,000, a felony.

Curtis Huff Jr., 50, 955 32nd Ave. SW, was arrested for insurance fraud on Jan. 7 and released from Indian River County Jail after posting a $20,000 bond on Jan. 9, according to court records.

Huff, who is employed by MBV Engineering, was involved in an auto accident at 7:45 a.m. on June 13, 2017, according to an Indian River County Sheriff’s Office report. The single-car crash occurred on Route 60, 13 miles west of I-95.

After the accident, Huff was airlifted to Lawnwood Medical Center and treated for unspecified injuries. He was released from the hospital on June 15, 2017, and subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, stating that he was working at the time of the crash, according to a court affidavit. His claim was approved by FCCI Insurance group, which paid Huff $137,070.30.

Approximately one year later, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office investigators received a tip that Huff was not on the job the morning of the accident. According to the tipster, Huff was actually on his way to stand trial on multiple felony charges in Highlands County where he faced the possibility of significant prison time if convicted.

After the tip came in, the story Huff told insurance investigators to secure the workers’ comp cash began to unravel.

The Florida state trooper who had responded to the accident told sheriff’s investigators that Huff had told him that he was traveling to court that morning when he had a sneezing attack and hit a guardrail.

The state trooper told investigators that Huff made no mention of performing any work duties.

Huff’s attorney told investigators that he had been unable to reach his client regarding the trial that morning and that Huff had failed to appear in court as scheduled.

It was also discovered that Huff had appeared in court on June 12, 2017, for jury selection. Investigators listened to an electronic recording of the jury selection process, and say it was clear that Huff was aware that he was to be in court for trial the following day, when the accident occurred.

Huff’s employer told investigators that Huff had asked for June 12 off without giving a reason, and that he showed up at work early in the morning on June 13, around 7:15 a.m., and informed his boss he was heading out to perform a jobsite inspection at a concrete plant.

However, investigators say records indicate Huff had already performed the inspection on June 9.

Neither Huff or his attorney, Julia Graves, returned phone calls seeking comment about the insurance fraud allegation.

Huff has a lengthy criminal history dating back to his younger years in Michigan and Indiana. He served 12 years of a 20-year term at Hardee Correctional Institution in Bowling Green, Florida, for a 1993 attempted murder that occurred during a botched robbery at a Kissimmee motel.

In an earlier driving-related incident, Huff was charged with reckless driving on Dec. 8, 2017, along 20th Street near Avilla Avenue in Vero Beach, according to sheriff reports.

He was fined $148, ordered to pay $1,000 in property damage, and required to complete a 4-hour basic driver improvement course.

Huff is an active suspect in the 1992 murder of Mary Ellen Wise in Vero Beach, according to Indian River County Sheriff’s Detective Chris Cassinari.

Previously, he was a suspect in another 1992 murder that took place in Osceola County, but police there say he has been ruled out in that case.

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