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Press Release

Fort Dodge Landlord Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Use Fire To Commit Wire Fraud

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

A woman who collected over $78,000 from State Farm Insurance for losses stemming from the arson of a rental dwelling she owned in Fort Dodge, Iowa, pled guilty today in federal court in Sioux City. 

Shirley Weimer, age, 67 a Fort Dodge, Iowa, landlord pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to knowingly use fire to commit wire fraud in violation of federal law. 

At the plea hearing, the evidence revealed Weimer had recruited a tenant of hers, Lisa Young, to burn down the home that Weimer owned and rented to Young.  Weimer promised Young $10,000 of the insurance money for her role in the crime.  Eventually, Weimer recruited Ashley and Gerald Straight and others into her scheme to defraud the insurance company. The scheme was executed, and the rental dwelling was intentionally (and completely) destroyed by fire.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Weimer remains free on bond previously set pending sentencing.  Weimer faces a 120 month sentence, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.  Lisa Young will be sentenced for her role in the crime on April 22, 2014.  Ashley Straight will be sentenced for her role in the crime on April 22, 2014, and Gerald Straight will be sentenced for his role in the crime on April 29, 2014.

Court file information is available at  The case file number is 13-3035.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Otho Volunteer Fire Department, the Iowa Department of Public Safety -- State Fire Marshal's Division, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fort Dodge Police Department.  The case was prosecuted Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild

Updated February 19, 2015