New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Insurance Fraud

March 18, 2014

A resident of New Orleans, La., is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to multiple arson-for-insurance fraud schemes.

Anthony R. Thomas had been charged with multiple criminal counts for his involvement in a 2007 scheme to burn his rental property for fire insurance, a 2009 scheme to burn another rental property for his accomplice to collect fire insurance and his attempt at covering up his involvement in the 2009 fire, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. announced.

Thomas has pleaded guilty to: one count of conspiracy to commit arson; two counts of arson; one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud; three counts of wire fraud; one count of using arson to commit conspiracy, mail, and wire fraud; and one count of making false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s office reported.

According to court documents, Thomas and others attempted in 2007 to defraud his homeowner’s fire insurance company and their rental fire insurance companies by engaging in sham leases and filing inflated claims for property allegedly burned in the fire.

Thomas and others were involved in a similar scheme in 2009 where a renter filed inflated claims for property allegedly burned in the arson fire.

Thomas, who was burned in the 2009 fire, concocted a false story to federal agents to explaining his burns.

Meritplan Insurance Co., an affiliate of Balboa Insurance Co., Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and American Security Insurance Co. were among the property insurers affected by the fraud schemes, court documents showed.

U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan scheduled Thomas’s sentencing for June 18, 2014. He faces a minimum of 17 years and a maximum term of 50 years in prison.

This case was investigated jointly by Special Agents of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and arson investigators of the New Orleans Fire Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Sanders.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana

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