What do dogs, dead co-workers, a cell phone and a call to a realtor have in common?
They could be the key to determining whether or not an Ohio couple committed arson and insurance fraud by burning down their mansion and then collecting partial payment for their losses.
The mansion, which was built in 2006, burned down in 2014. The owners wanted $14 million for their losses, but only managed to collect $700,000 before the insurance stopped paying for anything else. The couple sued, demanding $60 million.
The couple's insurance company countersued, saying that they think the couple lied and concealed evidence during the investigation into the fire -- the cause of which is still under investigation.
The insurance company believes the couple set the fire because they were about to go under financially and could no longer afford the mansion. The couple claims that they were financially fine, had no intention of moving, and that the insurer is just trying to get out of its obligation to pay.
Here is some of the evidence in the case against the couple::
- A real estate agent claims that the wife called her three weeks before the fire to discuss selling the house.
- A business partner of the husband's testified that the man claimed his wife "would have killed" him if the family dogs had died in the fire. The dogs were found unharmed outside the home.
- The former business partner later committed suicide on the couple's property for unknown reasons.
- Investigators have questioned where the husband was when the fire started. He claims he was at least 7 miles away from the home at a construction site. Investigators say cellphone towers show he was on or near his property.
While there have been no criminal charges filed in the case yet, the civil trial could be an indicator of how a criminal trial would go for the couple if they end up being charged with arson and fraud.
The consequences of a conviction for insurance fraud can include not only restitution, but also jail time. If you're under suspicion of insurance fraud, talk to a white collar crime attorney today.
Source: US News & World Report, "Lawsuits Over Ohio Mansion Fire Set for Trial Next Month," Sep. 03, 2017