Bethesda Arsonist Sentenced In Scheme to Defraud Insurance Company

June 22, 2009

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Thomas Patrick Moriarty, age 40, of Dickerson, Maryland, today to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud an insurance company by setting fire to an insured residence, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Messitte also ordered Moriarty to pay restitution of $33,000.

According to his plea agreement, Moriarty assisted a friend who was involved in the contracting business to burn down an insured house in Bethesda. The friend, later identified as Louis Pisani, Jr., purchased the residence, located at 4615 Edgefield Road in Bethesda, in August 2003. Along with a business partner identified as co-schemer B, Pisani intended to make a lucrative profit by demolishing the residence, subdividing the lots and using the property for new residential construction to be re-sold. Pisani and his co-schemer also purchased insurance for the residence.

To fraudulently reap the benefits of the insurance policy, Pisani and his co-schemer planned to substantially damage the residence by fire, for which they would submit a claim on the insurance policy. Moriarty agreed to assist in their arson scheme. To that end, on March 12, 2004, after Pisani’s co-schemer prepared the residence with highly flammable fuel, Moriarty set the residence on fire, causing substantial damage. After being notified of the loss, the insurance company issued checks for $50,000 and $16,900 as advance payments on the loss and for temporary housing for Pisani and his co-schemer.

When the cause of the fire was investigated by the insurance company representatives and the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office, Pisani and his co-schemer endeavored to conceal their involvement in the fire. Among other things, they persuaded another person not to reveal information about the fire to the Fire Marshal’s Office, and also provided false and misleading information to the Fire Marshal’s Office. The insurance company did not pay the balance of the claim.

Louis Pisani, Jr., age 43, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and obstruction of an agency investigation in connection with a scheme to influence contracting at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center; and in a separate case, to mail fraud in the arson insurance fraud scheme. Pisani faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and obstructing an agency proceeding and 20 years in prison for mail fraud. No sentencing date has been set for Pisani.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Pauzé and Steven Dunne, who are prosecuting the case.



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