New York Man Faces Insurance Fraud Charges for Suspicious Fire

November 3, 2008

An Albany, New York property owner who reportedly fell behind on the mortgage payments for a four-unit apartment building he owns in was arrested for setting fire to the structure just hours after his tenants left the building.

Kerry Bennett, 28, was charged with arson and insurance fraud. The arrest followed an investigation into the June 7 fire by Albany police and fire investigators, the office of District Attorney David Soares and the Frauds Bureau of the New York State Insurance Department. Fire investigators said evidence at the scene led them to believe the fire was intentionally set.

According to investigators, Bennett set the fire and then tried to defraud State Farm Insurance Co. out of more than $50,000 — the amount of the insurance claim he filed.

Investigators said that video from a security camera mounted on an adjacent building showed that Bennett was the last person known to be in the house before the fire started. Tenants living in one second floor apartment left the building earlier in the day. The other three apartments were unoccupied.

The late-night fire engulfed the entire top floor of the building and damaged an adjacent home which is also owned by Bennett.

Bennett was arraigned last week and remanded to Saratoga County Jail where he was being held for grand larceny in an unrelated case. If convicted, Bennett could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

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