Iowans and South Dakotans Charged in Arson Scams

January 22, 2008

Federal grand jurors have indicted two Sioux Falls men on charges of burning down their car stereo installation business to collect the insurance money.

One of them, Chad Michael Blair, 31, earlier was charged with an unrelated scheme to set fire to a truck in Des Moines, Iowa, so the owner could claim insurance benefits.

The new indictment charges Blair and Dai Thanh Ong, 27, with conspiracy and arson.

They ran the business Mobile Acoustics & Window Tinting in Sioux Falls and came up with a plan to pay someone to burn the place down, according to the indictment.

After the close of business Aug. 9, 2006, Blair, Ong and another person poured gasoline inside the establishment, and the next day Blair and Ong set fire to it, the document states.

Blair has been released on bond but Ong has not been arrested.

The accomplice’s name is not included in court documents. U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said he could not comment whether the third person was hired to commit arson.

The fire destroyed the inside of the building and did about $110,000 in damage, said C.J. Bowker, who manages the property in which the business was located.

“Basically, I was told that it was a very suspicious fire, that there was some sort of accelerant used in a waste basket that contained some shredded material,” Bowker said.

Ong spoke with an insurance adjuster after the fire, she said.

“Earlier that day, our insurance adjuster said Dai (Ong) told him a tri-state ring was going around hitting that type of business,” Bowker said.

Ong also said the business took in $90,000 in inventory the day before the fire, she said.

Blair and two other men were earlier indicted in federal court for an unrelated arson case.

Benjamin Meyer, 24, and Brandon Deweerd, 23, both of Des Moines, and Blair are charged with conspiracy, attempted arson, mail fraud and wire fraud, according to court documents.

Deweerd hired Blair to burn Meyer’s 2002 Dodge pickup so he could collect the insurance money, which happened on Sept. 5, according to the documents.

Meyer and Deweerd are also out on bond.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.