Back at the tail end of 2021, popular off-road recovery YouTuber Matthew Wetzel was charged with one second-degree felony count of insurance fraud. Wetzel has pleaded no contest to charges and has been ordered to probation and to pay fines to both the American Automobile Association and to Utah.
Wetzel runs the Matt’s Off-Road Recovery YouTube channel. Wetzel, with the help of friends and other guests, helps off-roaders and even regular people out of sticky situations. The team recovers everything from six figure Jeeps to wrecked planes with pretty awesome rigs. I’ve featured a few of the channel’s shenanigans before during my off-roading off-season.
However, according to the Utah Insurance Fraud Division, some of the tows performed by Wetzel’s Winder Towing — including at least one featured in a video — were misrepresented in claims to AAA. The insurer paid out over $15,000 for those claims. One of which was this tow, which was featured on the channel:
One claim examined by investigators involved a Polaris RZR off-road vehicle towed from Sand Hollow State Park in April 2020. In a video of the tow posted to Wetzel’s YouTube channel, he was seen hauling the vehicle, court documents said — noting that AAA’s policy does not cover off-road vehicle tows.
The owner of the RZR told an investigator that he used his friend’s AAA membership to cover the cost of the recovery, court documents said. The claim filed with AAA said Winder Towing rescued the friend’s truck, instead of the RZR, the documents said.
Wetzel was charged with one second-degree felony count of insurance fraud. This is a charge that carries a potential punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
However, as KSL News reports, Wetzel will see nowhere near that. As part of a plea agreement, Wetzel pleaded no contest to a Class A Misdemeanor of making a false or fraudulent insurance claim. The charge is a reduction of the original felony and means probation instead of jail time, from KSL News:
Fifth District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox ordered Wetzel to serve 18 months of probation and pay fines, including $15,328 to AAA and $1,745 to Utah’s insurance fraud division.
Matt’s Off-Road Recovery has continued to publish content through the case. I even caught a glimpse of the Morrvair wheeling at the King of the Hammers last month.
In the end, both sides of the case appear to be satisfied with the result. The Utah Attorney General’s Office believes justice has been served as Wetzel will be paying AAA back. Meanwhile, Wetzel plans on continuing off-road recovery services to the region and seeking early termination of the probation.