News and Press Releases

Joined with Others to Torch Duplex After Obtaining Renter’s Insurance

February 23, 2009

RYAN M. BURGE, 27, of Longview, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six years in prison, three years of supervised release and $235,389 in restitution for Conspiracy to Commit Arson. BURGE admitted in a plea agreement last November, that in June 2007, he conspired with two other people and burned down a Longview duplex that had been his home.

According to the plea agreement, BURGE hatched the plan to burn down his duplex after obtaining rental insurance in March 2007. BURGE recruited two others to help him. On June 25, 2007, BURGE gave one of the other conspirators his debit card, pin number and two plastic containers and instructed him to go to a gas station and fill the containers with gasoline. When the co-conspirator returned, BURGE poured gasoline around inside the Cowan Court duplex and provided a means for the gas vapors to ignite. BURGE and the conspirators went to a friend’s house and disposed of the clothing they were wearing. The gas vapors exploded, causing extensive damage to the Cowan Court duplex. Fortunately, a family with young children that had been renting the other half of the duplex were not injured in the explosion or fire. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said BURGE deserved above the mandatory minimum sentence “because of the danger posed to the family” living in the other half of the duplex.

Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London noted that, “The fire and resulting explosion caused substantial property damage to the adjoining duplex residences and another residence. In committing this arson, BURGE showed little regard for safety of his next door neighbors and the impact the fire would have on their lives.” Members of the family testified at the sentencing hearing.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Longview Police and Fire Departments.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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