Police arrested a former community college trustee on a charge of filing a fraudulent insurance claim after his estranged wife provided them with information, authorities said Wednesday.
George Rodda Jr., 57, who was a trustee of the Coast Community College District for 17 years, was arrested by Newport Beach police Tuesday on suspicion of exaggerating losses from a Sept. 19, 1987, burglary of his Corona del Mar residence.
His estranged wife, Madge, told police that many of the items George Rodda said had been stolen were actually in her possession--and that her husband knew of their whereabouts, said Officer Bob Oakley, a police spokesman.
Oakley said Madge Rodda told police her husband had also inflated the value of the items; for example, she said a mink coat that George Rodda said was worth $4,950 was actually made of imitation fur and valued at $250.
George Rodda, a Newport Beach attorney, declined to comment Wednesday on his arrest. He referred queries to his attorney, Marshall M. Schulman, who said that the former trustee would probably plead not guilty to the charge.
Madge Rodda could not be reached for comment.
Oakley said George Rodda, on Sept. 19, had estimated his losses in the burglary at $95,680. A day later, Rodda filed a supplementary report claiming losses of $593,000.
Among the items that police said Rodda had fraudulently listed were an antique ring he valued at $40,000 and a silver tea set and candelabra he claimed was worth $150,000.
Madge Rodda told police that she has those items and that their true value was $20,000 for the ring and $2,500 for the silver set, Oakley said.
Oakley would not explain how Madge Rodda, who lives out of state, became involved in the investigation.
He said, however, that she "apparently came to the station to get a copy of the burglary report. When she saw that property listed there, she asked to talk to the detectives."
Despite the charge of falsifying the claim, police are not disputing that a burglary did occur at George Rodda's residence.
Schulman said his client will be arraigned in Harbor Municipal Court on Feb. 18. If convicted, he faces up to four years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
George Rodda's years as a trustee included five years as the board's president. In 1976, he received the Trustee of the Year award from the California Community College Trustees.
He declined to seek reelection to the board in 1985.
Coast Community College District trustees govern Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley. After the Los Angeles Community College District, it is the largest in the state.