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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Homeowner Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison In Scheme To Burn Down House To Collect Insurance

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Saleh H. Fakhoury, age 49, formerly of Lutherville, Maryland, today to four years in prison, followed by nine months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release, for his participation in a scheme to destroy his Maryland home by fire to collect $3 million in insurance proceeds. Judge Bennett also ordered Fakhoury to pay restitution of more than $800,000.                    

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William P. McMullan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

According to his plea agreement and court documents, Fakhoury owned a home in Lutherville Maryland and in 2007, bought a second home in Florida.  By March 2009, Fakhoury owed over $200,000 to credit card companies, utilities and other service providers, as well as over $1.7 million to banks for the mortgages on the properties he owned.

Co-conspirator Hammoud worked for Fakhoury at Alfeo’s, a pizza restaurant owned by Fakhoury. Fakhoury and Hammoud schemed to destroy Fakhoury’s home in Lutherville by arson.  Fakhoury intended to collect the insurance and pay off his debts.  Fakhoury agreed to pay $70,000 to have his home set on fire: $20,000 to be initially paid to Hammoud; and later when the insurance money was received, $50,000 to be paid to others that Hammoud hired to set the fire.

On March 12 or 13, 2009, a fire was deliberately set at the Lutherville home.  The fire self-extinguished and minimal damage was sustained. On March 14, 2009, a second fire was deliberately set using paint thinner.  The home was completely destroyed. Fakhoury paid Hammoud the agreed upon $20,000 to have the house set on fire.

In September 2009, Fakhoury executed a sworn proof of loss to collect $3,155,197 in insurance.  The loss statement was false, in that it claimed items were destroyed or damaged in the fire when, in fact, the items were not consumed in the fire, and the fire was intentionally set.  The insurance company denied the claim, but paid $828,773 to the mortgagor of the Maryland home.

On December 2, 2011, Fakhoury filed a civil action against the insurance company in an effort to recover monies under the insurance policy, and claim over $3 million in compensatory damages.  As part of his plea agreement, Fakhoury has agreed to dismiss the lawsuit.

Hassan Hammoud, age 60, of Dundalk, Maryland pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 63 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution of $828,773.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, Baltimore County Police Department and IRS - Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.

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Updated February 23, 2015