Ex-firefighter indicted on mail-fraud charge

By EVAN YOUNG

A former Mehlville firefighter facing federal murder-for-hire charges may be tried separately in an unrelated mail-fraud case.

U.S. Magistrate David Noce ordered Jan. 6 that Dittmer resident James Kornhardt be given a separate trial for a federal charge that he defrauded an insurance company.

Kornhardt, a former Mehlville Fire Protection District firefighter and former vice president of Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, one count of murder for hire and one count of obstruction of justice.

The charges stem from the October 1992 murder of Danny Coleman.

However, Kornhardt also is accused of defrauding State Auto Insurance Companies by collecting more than $29,000 on a false claim of stolen jewelry. The mail-fraud charge was included in a second superseding federal indictment filed last June.

Both Kornhardt and prosecutors motioned for that count to be severed and tried separately because it is not related to the previous three charges.

Prosecutors also filed a motion to dismiss a fifth count, forfeiture of property, in connection with the mail-fraud allegation, which Noce has granted.

The magistrate’s report on pretrial motions awaits a formal ruling from U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw.

Kornhardt and his spouse enrolled in a State Auto insurance policy covering their “dwelling, private structures, personal property, living expenses and scheduled jewelry,” according to the indictment. The policy, which took effect Feb. 28, 2005, provided $42,300 coverage on the jewelry alone, the indictment states.

In July 2005, Kornhardt submitted a claim to State Auto contending that a bag of jewelry was stolen from his vehicle the previous month while it was parked outside MFPD Firehouse No. 5 on Mueller Road in Green Park.

The indictment states Kornhardt claimed the following jewelry was stolen:

• One 14-carat yellow gold engagement ring and band valued at $3,125.

• One 18-carat yellow gold ring with oval tanzanite stone valued at $6,500.

• One set of 14-carat yellow gold earrings with tanzanite and diamond stones valued at $3,000.

• One 14-carat white gold diamond and genuine mandarin garnet ring valued at $1,200.

• One 14-carat yellow gold ring with diamonds valued at $1,400.

• One 18-carat yellow gold diamond and genuine mandarin garnet ring valued at $2,500.

• Seven loose tanzanite stones valued at $12,100.

Kornhardt signed a “proof of loss” form in late August 2005 and agreed to accept payment in full from State Auto on his claim, according to the indictment.

He deposited a $29,200 check from the insurance company two weeks later, the indictment states. Authorities recovered all but two pieces of the jewelry Kornhardt included in his claim to State Auto from his Dittmer home last May and June, according to the indictment.

“These same items were the subject of James K. Kornhardt’s insurance loss claim submitted to State Auto that James K. Kornhardt verified as having been stolen,” the indictment states.