Witnesses: Arkansas Developer in Fraud Case in Trouble Before Fire

September 24, 2010

A forensic accountant told jurors in Aaron Jones’ federal insurance-fraud trial on Sept. 22 that, contrary to the claims of Jones’ lawyer, the real estate developer and attorney was facing major financial problems when his west Little Rock, Ark., family home burned to the ground in 2008.

Jones is accused of setting the fire so he could collect insurance proceeds.

Forensic accountant Al Hamilton testifed that he reviewed numerous records and determined that Jones was in financial trouble, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“I don’t care how much you’re worth or how large your credit score is, if you can’t make a payment next month, you’re in dire straits,” Hamilton said.

Tim Dudley, Jones’ defense attorney, has said his client had a net worth of more than $4 million, had no financial problems and no motive for such a crime.

A federal grand jury issued an indictment in October 2009 that said Jones and his wife missed making a balloon payment of $331,000 on their mortgage.

Jones is accused of setting fire to his home on May 30, 2008, while his wife, children and pets were at the family’s Florida beach house. Jones told investigators that at least two intruders broke in, bound him with duct tape and set the fire.

Two former Centennial Bank officials also testified about dealing with Jones on loans he took out to pay for the home and the beach house.

According to former loan officer John Brennan, Jones took out a $1.2 million loan in 2006 to buy the Arkansas house and then a second mortgage against it to get $245,000 for a down payment on the beach house property.

As he cross-examined Brennan, Dudley pointed out that the bank would not have made such loans if Jones was not in good financial shape.

John Olaimey, then the bank’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, testified that Jones repaid the $245,000 soon after the fire when Olaimey found discrepancies and called Jones in to discuss them. He said the paperwork did not list an additional mortage against the property when it should have.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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