Woman Found Guilty of Mail Fraud, Using Fire to Commit Mail Fraud, and Money Laundering in Connection with 2013 House Fire in Martelle
A woman who participated in a scheme to submit a fraudulent insurance claim when her boyfriend intentionally set fire to his vacant house was convicted by a jury today after a three-day trial in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Beth Galloway, age 42, from Camanche, Iowa, and formerly of Olin, was convicted of one count of mail fraud, one count of using fire to commit mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury returned the verdicts this afternoon following about two hours of jury deliberations.
The evidence at trial showed that, between Spring 2013 and Spring 2014, Galloway and her boyfriend, James Plower, made up and participated in a scheme to defraud Plower’s insurance company. The evidence showed that Galloway, as part of the scheme, twice drove a minor to Plower’s vacant home in Martelle, Iowa, to attempt to set fire to the home, but that both attempts failed. Further evidence showed that Plower then deliberately set fire to his vacant home and then submitted an insurance claim in which he falsely claimed the fire was accidental. As a result of the fraudulent insurance claim, the insurance company mailed Plower a check for $66,497.46. Evidence also showed that Galloway and Plower agreed to launder the proceeds from the fraudulent insurance claim in February and March of 2014 when, after learning that law enforcement was investigating the cause of the fire, the two agreed to take $10,000 of the proceeds from Plower’s bank account. They then gave the $10,000 to a friend to hold for them to prevent law enforcement from seizing the money.
Plower had previously pled guilty to charges of mail fraud and use of fire to commit mail fraud. He also had previously been sentenced to 13 years’ in federal prison.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Galloway remains free on conditions of release pending sentencing. Galloway faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 50 years’ imprisonment, a $750,000 fine, $300 in special assessments, and nine years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ravi Narayan and Tony Morfitt 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.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 16-CR-68.
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