N.Y. Farmer Arraigned on Arson, Fraud in Fire That Killed 24 Cows

February 23, 2006

A 34-year-old Worcester, N.Y. farm owner has been arraigned on criminal charges in connection with an April 2003 fire that killed 24 cows.

Peter Mravlja was charged with arson, insurance fraud and witness tampering following a nearly three-year investigation local authorities and the state insurance department. He was released after posting $5,000 bail, said Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl.

Mravlja Farms, owned jointly by Peter Mravlja and his father, George Mravlja, closed after the fire on April 20, 2003. The cause was initially listed as “undetermined” because an electrical malfunction could not be ruled out as a potential cause, Muehl said.

The Otsego County Patrons Co-Operative Fire Relief Association of Schenevus paid Mravlja Farms a total of $143,555 to compensate the family for its losses.

Spurred by a confidential tip, authorities learned the Mravlja family farm “was in severe financial distress at the time of the fire, creating a potential motive for both arson and insurance fraud,” Muehl said.

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