DELEON SPRINGS, Florida -- One day in October, a distraught victim reported the theft of his treasured 1932 Ford Coupe from his garage. It was a passionate hobby project for the DeLeon Springs man. He had invested substantial time and money into building it and a friend even commented that he may have loved the car more than his own wife. But there was another project David Gallentine had allegedly been working on that Volusia County Sheriff’s investigators uncovered as they looked deeper into the alleged car theft. Deputies say Gallentine had pieced together an elaborate scheme around the car to defraud his insurance company out of $70,700. But skeptical, determined investigators followed the 43-year-old man’s paper trail, gathering enough evidence to put him in jail on six charges, including racketeering and insurance fraud.
Gallentine reported the car theft on October 22, 2012 when he and his family returned to their home at 226 Spring Garden Ranch Road from an out-of-state trip. The coupe was reportedly last seen in his closed garage, but Gallentine pointed out to a patrol deputy that someone had unscrewed and pried open the garage’s metal siding. Investigator Robert Campbell was then assigned the case and he went to the home to inspect the crime scene for himself. It didn’t take long for him to spot a few unusual facts that set off alarm bells in his mind. The alleged thief would have to know the layout of the garage interior in order to pry through the only section of wall not blocked on the inside by wood and tools. Campbell observed that there were no footprints in the thick, loose sand around the garage. Several other items of potential value in the garage were left untouched by the thief. A driver would have to know about a special lever that had to be adjusted before the car could be driven. Campbell believed it was time to dig a little deeper into the old car’s history.
Campbell asked for paperwork associated with the car, including receipts for parts Gallentine had purchased as he assembled the car. The objective was to collect the parts’ serial numbers in case the engine components turned up later. It was then that Campbell learned the car wasn’t really a restored original 1932 Ford, but rather a “recreation,” according to statements made by Gallentine. The investigator then spoke with Gallentine’s insurance agent and discovered Gallentine didn’t waste any time in filing a claim, which the insurance company had valued at $70,700 based on information Gallentine had given them.
Campbell and fellow investigator Aaron Blais interviewed Gallentine again. During the conversation, Gallentine mentioned that he expected his car to be found in pieces and he would then have to build the car from the ground up all over again. He allegedly had asked his insurance agent if after he got his $70,000 payout and if the car parts were found, could he buy the parts back at a discount. The investigators later asked the insurance agent about that conversation with Gallentine and he recalled the man was very insistent on getting an answer to the buy back question.
More suspicious information accumulated. Gallentine agreed to do a Voice Stress Analysis (lie detector) test and his results indicated that his answers to questions about insurance fraud and the whereabouts of the missing car were deceptive. An old friend of Gallentine told investigators that several months ago Gallentine had told him about how someone could break into his garage through the wall. He also allegedly told his friend that he thought about “fake stealing” the car in an effort to make money off of an insurance claim because he would never make enough money from just selling it.
Investigator Blais then examined the car’s paperwork and learned that it was not an actual 1932 Ford, but rather a vehicle built and fabricated using several parts from numerous other vehicles. However, Gallentine had registered the vehicle as a “1932 Ford two door.” Blais coordinated with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and determined that Gallentine had titled the vehicle fraudulently. Deputies say it should have been registered as an “assembled from parts” vehicle.
Additionally, the paperwork filed with the insurance company claimed that the car was stored in an “air tight garage,” which was clearly not the case. Gallentine’s paperwork also stated that the car had a “new 302 Ford engine.” Investigators looked into the claim and learned that Gallentine had forged an engine bill of sale. The engine was actually one Gallentine had rebuilt.
Finally, investigators Campbell and Blais determined Gallentine had engaged in a “pattern of racketeering activity.” This resulted in his arrest on six charges: racketeering, passing a forged instrument, insurance fraud, filing a false statement with an insurance office, giving false information on a motor vehicle insurance application and fraudulently obtaining a motor vehicle title. Gallentine was taken into custody at his home Tuesday afternoon and transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach. The case is still active as investigators try to determine what happened to the reportedly stolen vehicle, which has yet to be found.