Prison Awaits W.Va. Couple After 10-Year Crime Spree, 60 Arsons

March 28, 2005

An insurance fraud scheme that continued for 10 years and left a trail 60 arsons across southern West Virginia, including burned mobile homes, buildings and automobiles, has netted a Logan County, W.Va. woman 15 years in prison and her husband with eight years and five months in prison.

Wanda and Tommy Marcum also were ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution to insurance companies. U.S. District Judge David A. Faber did not fine them, saying they have no ability to pay a fine and whatever money they have should go toward restitution.

Faber said he gave Mrs. Markham the longest sentence possible under her plea agreement. He sentenced her husband to the least time he could.

The couple will receive credit for the 18 months they have already spent in jail, Faber said.

Prosecutors told the Associated Press that between 1993 and 2003, the Marcums applied for insurance policies on numerous homes and vehicles, hired an individual to commit the arsons, then filed claims. The couple was linked to 60 arsons, car crashes and other mishaps that resulted in claims with 15 insurance companies between mid-1993 and December 2003.

The original 13-count indictment, handed up Dec. 4, 2003, focuses on four mobile home fires in Logan and Mingo counties and a fifth arson across the border in Turkey Creek, Ky. The indictment also encompasses two auto claim filings, including one for a crash that allegedly never happened.

Investigators consider Mrs. Marcum the principal architect of the scheme. She has relied on three different Social Security numbers and as many as 17 aliases, though some come from her four prior marriages, prosecutors said. She was also convicted on fraud-related felonies in the early 1990s.

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