News and Press Releases

Indiana County Man Admits Setting Fire To Residence, Submitting Fraudulent Insurance Claim

March 14, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A resident of Indiana County, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of malicious destruction of property by fire and mail fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

William Russell, 56, of Waterman, Pa., pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Russell set fire to his residence located on Aug. 29, 2009.  The residence was attached to a general store known as the Korner Market.  The court was also advised that after the fire, Russell submitted a fraudulent insurance claim to the Erie Insurance Exchange in an effort to recover insurance proceeds relating to property items lost in the fire.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.  The law provides for a total sentence of 60 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Federal law also provides that persons convicted of violating the federal arson statute are required to serve a minimum sentence of five years in prison.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Russell.

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