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
SEPTEMBER 18, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STOCKTON PROPERTY OWNER CHARGED
WITH ARSON, ADDITIONAL CRIMES
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that the owner of a business property in Stockton, Mo., has been indicted by a federal grand jury for additional crimes related to an arson fire at the building.
Dan Thornton, 38, of El Dorado Springs, Mo., was charged in a three-count superseding indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Sept. 9, 2009.
The superseding indictment replaces an April 1, 2009, indictment that alleges Thornton aided and abetted others to destroy the building at 600 West St., in Stockton, by means of fire and explosive materials. Thornton is the owner of the property, which houses the Cigarette Shack, Pappi’s Pizza and Movieland as well as a vacant business.
In addition to the arson charge, the superseding indictment also charges Thornton with wire fraud and with a scheme to defraud his insurance company.
According to the indictment, Thornton began discussing the possibility of burning down the business property in late 2008 or early 2009. Thornton, who borrowed $398,400 in November 2006 to launch the businesses, was delinquent with loan repayments on six occasions between December 2007 and February 2009.
In March 2009, Thornton allegedly offered to pay a woman a share of the insurance proceeds if she burned down the building, and provided her with the keys to the building so that she could enter the building and start the fire. In the early morning hours of March 18, 2009, another person entered the building and set it afire using flammable materials. The fire was detected by a Cedar County Sheriff’s Deputy at approximately 4 a.m., who then summoned the local fire department. The building sustained significant damage. When Thornton was summoned to the scene of the fire, the indictment says, he opined that the fire was likely set by someone who “hated” him because of his sexual orientation.
Later that day, Thornton visited the Stockton branch office of State Farm Fire and Casualty Company and reported the fire. While he was in the office, an agent placed a telephone call to another office in Tusla, Okla. During this phone call, Thornton described the damage to the building and to its contents, and made inquiries relating to collecting insurance proceeds, which forms the basis for the wire fraud charge.
Whitworth cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
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