NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A New Hanover County man has been convicted of dumping his truck into the Cape Fear River and reporting it stolen to his insurance company.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Peter Dane Koke, 52, was found guilty of insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretense last week following a week-long jury trial.
Koke received a split, 42-day active sentence that would be served in six, 7-day increments at the discretion of Koke's probation officer and at Koke's convenience. However, Koke appealed the conviction, so he won't serve any time until the NC Court of Appeals makes a ruling.
The charges were the result of an investigation by the Department of Insurance that Koke made misrepresentations on an insurance application and other insurance documents.
Investigators determined that Koke's Dodge Ram pickup truck was involved in a crash on July 3, 2015, and sustained nearly $9,000 in damage. Koke did not have insurance on the truck at the time.
Koke then arranged for a "mobile mechanic" to replace some of the damaged truck parts while working under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
On August 7, 2015, Koke applied for a comprehensive insurance policy on the truck but failed to disclose he had been previously convicted of a felony charge of attempting to obtaining property by false pretenses.
Five days later, Koke reported the truck was stolen and failed to tell the insurance company that the truck had major repairs since it was purchased.
Investigators believe they located the truck in the Cape Fear River underneath the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
A dive team with the Wilmington Fire Department pulled a side view mirror and a Dodge Ram emblem off the submerged truck.
An employee at a local tow truck business testified that a few days after the dive team searched the river, that Koke approached him and asked him to pull the truck out of the water.
The truck has not been seen since.
In an earlier version of this story, we reported that Koke was sentenced to two consecutive 11-23 month sentences and given three years of probation. That information was provided in a news release by the District Attorney's Office. They have since provided WECT with Koke's actual sentence.