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Press Release

Baton Rouge Man Indicted for Use of Fire to Commit a Felony, Use of Fire to Maliciously Damage Property, and Wire Fraud

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

United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that Saleem Yousef Dabit, age 73, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was indicted on November 7, 2019, by a federal grand jury charging him with use of fire to commit a felony, use of fire to maliciously damage property, and wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Dabit owned and operated Sam's Men's Fashions, a retail men's clothing store located at 5154 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  On January 1, 2019, Dabit is alleged to have set fire to Sam's Men's Fashions with gasoline from at least 15 containers, which resulted in a massive fuel-air explosion, with the intent to damage and destroy the property and collect on his commercial property and business interruption insurance.  On January 2, 2019, Dabit allegedly made an insurance claim for the fire loss and damage to his business for an estimated loss of over $500,000. 

U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Arson is not only an extremely dangerous crime, but it is also a serious economic crime, as insurance fraud causes an increase in insurance costs to all other citizens.  This indictment demonstrates our commitment to bring arsonists to justice, and protect life and property of the community.   I want to thank our prosecutor, the ATF, and the Baton Rouge Fire Department for their excellent work on this case.

This matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with substantial assistance from the Baton Rouge Fire Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Frazier.     

NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury.  Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea. 

Updated November 14, 2019

Financial Fraud