Baltimore, Maryland – Saleh H. Fakhoury, age 48, formerly of Lutherville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to his participation in a scheme to destroy his Maryland home by fire to collect $3 million in insurance proceeds. Hassan Hammoud, age 60, of Dundalk, Maryland pleaded guilty on May 16, 2014 to his participation in the conspiracy.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting 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 their plea agreements Fakhoury owned a home in Lutherville Maryland. In 2007, Fakhoury 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.
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 Hammoud $20,000 to set his home on 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 and Hammoud discussed their financial arrangement for the arson. The two agreed that when the insurance company paid Fakhoury, Fakhoury would pay $50,000 and the money would be sent overseas.
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 claiming over $3 million in compensatory damages. As part of his plea agreement, Fakhoury has agreed to dismiss the lawsuit.
Fakhoury and Hammoud face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to use fire to commit a federal felony. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar scheduled Fahhoury’s sentencing for September 4, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. and Hammoud’s sentencing for August 25, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
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 are prosecuting the case.