Skip to main content
Press Release

East Hartford Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Insurance Fraud, Gambling and Extortion Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that JOHN A. BARILE, 52, of East Hartford, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to arson, insurance fraud, gambling and extortion offenses. 

According to court documents and statements made in court, BARILE was a co-owner of Enzo’s Restaurant and Lounge, which was located on Main Street in Middletown.  By 2009, Enzo’s was facing financial difficulty.  Beginning in approximately November 2009, BARILE and others engaged in conversations about planning to cause a fire at Enzo’s in order to collect the insurance proceeds.  BARILE informed his co-owner of the plan and sought information from at least one individual on how to start the fire to make it look like an accident.

On the evening of January 9, 2010, BARILE participated in conversations with others at Enzo’s about causing the fire the next morning and mentioned that he had placed greasy rags around the fryolators and had applied grease to the walls.  Later in the evening, after the restaurant had closed, BARILE was aware that a fire was burning in the kitchen.  He intentionally did not extinguish the fire, transferred it to one or more of the greasy rags, allowed the fire to burn further, and then left the restaurant.  BARILE did not alert the fire department or anyone else about the fire he had left burning in the restaurant. 

The co-owner was inside Enzo’s at the time of the fire, and two individuals were inside a restaurant next door.  The Middletown Fire Department arrived a short time later, forced entry, rescued the co-owner and put out the fire. 

After the fire, BARILE sought payment from an insurance company for losses suffered as a result of the fire, and concealed his role in the fire from the insurance company and law enforcement.  The insurance company ultimately paid $189,787.69 to BARILE to settle the insurance claims related to the fire.

From at least 2010 through approximately January 2014, BARILE also conducted an illegal sports-related bookmaking operation.  In the course of the gambling business, BARILE paid out or received cash from sub-bookmakers and certain bettors.  During this time period, BARILE did not have any employment or source of income other than the illegal sports-related bookmaking business.  At times, the gambling business grossed more than $2,000 per day.

One bettor who repeatedly placed bets with BARILE’s gambling business eventually owed him approximately $50,000 from unpaid gambling losses. On November 8, 2011, BARILE, along with two associates, met the bettor at a parking lot in Hartford.  At the meeting, BARILE tased the bettor with a Taser or similar device in order to punish him for not paying his debts and enforce collection of the payment.

BARILE pleaded guilty to one count of arson, one count of mail fraud, one count of conducting an illegal gambling business and one count of collecting an extension of credit by extortionate means.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on May 6, 2016, at which time he faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 65 years.

BARILE was arrested on January 5, 2015, and is released on a $350,000 bond under electronic monitoring.  He is currently residing with a family member in Enfield.

On November 16, 2012, the government seized pursuant to a civil seizure warrant $165,287.69 in U.S. currency from BARILE’s bank account.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Middletown Police Department and the Connecticut State Police.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anastasia E. King and Neeraj N. Patel.

Updated February 4, 2016