La. Man Admits Arson Conspiracy, Will Testify in Courthouse Fire Case

March 21, 2005

A Gretna, La., man has admitted plotting to have his hunting camp in Mississippi burned for insurance money, and agreed to testify against two men accused of torching the Plaquemines Parish Courthouse to destroy evidence, according to the Associated Press.

Richard Price admitted that he paid James D. Chancey $6,000 to burn down the camp in Jayess, Miss., because he was having trouble selling it. The insurance paid $48,150.

Although the conspiracy charge against Price, Chancey and Michael Norve lists three acts of arson—the camp, the courthouse and a car—Price was accused only in the one involving his camp, defense attorney Dane S. Ciolino said.

As part of the plea agreement, he said, prosecutors dropped an arson charge that carried a mandatory 10-year sentence.

Chancey and Norve are scheduled for trial June 13 before District Judge Eldon Fallon on charges accusing them of conspiring to burn down the 112-year-old courthouse at Pointe a la Hache.

The fire on Jan. 12, 2002, was set to destroy evidence in criminal cases against friends and customers of Chancey’s motorcycle repair shop, federal authorities said. The fire did $2.5 million in damage, but the evidence against Chancey’s cronies survived, federal authorities said.

All three men are from Gretna. The indictment described both Norve and Price as patrons of Chancey’s shop.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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