doj.gif

NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


MATT J. WHITWORTH


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


STOCKTON MOTHER AND SON PLEAD GUILTY TO ARSON


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Stockton, Mo., woman and her son have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in an arson fire.


            Dina Larson, 39, of Stockton, and her son, Jacob Smith, 19, have pleaded guilty to the charge contained in an April 1, 2009, federal indictment. Larson pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning; Smith pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009.


            Larson and Smith each admitted that, aiding and abetting one another, they destroyed the building at 600 West St., in Stockton, by means of fire and explosive materials. The property houses the Cigarette Shack, Pappi’s Pizza and Movieland as well as a vacant business.


            On March 18, 2009, at approximately 4 a.m., Cedar County Deputy Sheriff Frank Brumfield, while fueling his vehicle, heard what he believed to be a heavy door slamming. Brumfield proceeded to the source of the sound and observed smoke emanating from the front of the vacant business.


            After the fire was extinguished, State Fire Marshal Investigator Bruce Thorlo conducted a fire scene investigation. It was immediately apparent that the fire had been intentionally set, according to today’s plea agreement, based upon the strong odor of a flammable liquid, the presence of multiple points of origin, pour patterns, and the discovery of three containers containing the remnants of a flammable liquid.


            The investigators were able to trace the point of sale of one of the fuel containers to a Lowe’s home improvement store in Springfield, Mo. Lowe’s was able to provide the investigators with a video recording depicting Larson purchasing a can of kerosene on March 17, 2009. Lowe’s was able to produce the sales ticket documenting the sale of the can.


            The investigators then proceeded to a nearby Wal-Mart store. Wal-Mart security personnel were able to locate video footage showing Larson purchasing two cans of Coleman fuel, brown jersey gloves, black shirts, black winter hats, nylons, shoes, and other items. Gloves of the same type purchased by Larson were recovered from the scene of the fire.


            On March 19, 2009, Smith approached investigators and acknowledged that it was he and his mother who set the fire. Larson admitted that she was promised a “big fat bank account” in exchange for setting the fire.


            Under federal statutes, Larson and Smith are each subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Cedar County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.

****************

This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html