Man pleads innocent to fraud charges

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man accused of planning to fake his own death so his wife could collect insurance money has pleaded innocent to federal fraud charges.

Jay Robert Darling, 39, made his first appearance in Alaska in U.S. District Court Monday.

Darling's wife, Wanda Wood, 23, fell to her death from a Homer bluff overlooking in 1997 under what officials deemed suspicious circumstances.

Darling pleaded not guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud for scheming to illegally obtain insurance proceeds, prosecutors said.

He was arrested by the FBI in late September in Oregon and is being held at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility until a detention hearing Thursday.

When Wood died, Darling told Alaska State Troopers that she fell. The troopers continue to investigate the death as a possible homicide but have not charged Darling.

Wood had life insurance for slightly more than $1 million, with double benefits in case of accidental death, according to a federal indictment.

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