Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Deputy Sheriff Sentenced to 13 Years for Mail Fraud and Using Fire to Commit a Federal Felony

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

A former deputy sheriff and volunteer firefighter who submitted a fraudulent insurance claim after deliberately setting fire to his vacant home was sentenced today to 13 years in federal prison.

James Marvin Plower, age 50, from Olin, Iowa, received the prison term after a February 20, 2015, guilty plea to one count of mail fraud and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.

At his guilty plea hearing, Plower admitted that, between about July 2013 and August 2014, he made up a scheme to defraud his insurance company.  Plower admitted that, as part of the scheme, he deliberately set fire to his vacant home in Martelle, Iowa, and then submitted an insurance claim in which he falsely claimed the fire was accidental.

Plower was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade.  Plower was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment to be followed by 3 years’ supervised release.  He was ordered to make $152,874.58 in restitution to the victim insurance company.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter Deegan and was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Iowa State Fire Marshal Division, and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department.

Plower was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set.

Court file information is available at  The case file number is 15-CR-12-LRR.

Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated June 10, 2015