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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Woman Who Schemed to Collect Insurance Money by Burning Down a House in Martelle Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison

Twice Drove a Minor to the House so He Could Attempt to Start a Fire

A woman who participated in a scheme to submit a fraudulent insurance claim when her boyfriend intentionally set fire to his vacant house was sentenced today to 12 years in federal prison.

Beth Galloway, age 42, from Camanche, Iowa, and formerly of Olin, received the prison term after a March 16, 2017, jury verdict finding her guilty of one count of mail fraud, one count of using fire to commit mail fraud, and money laundering.

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 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 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 the two agreed to take $10,000 of the proceeds from Plower’s bank account after learning that law enforcement was investigating the cause of the fire,.  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.

Galloway was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Galloway was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment.  She was ordered to make $152,874.58 in restitution to the insurance company.  She must also serve a 2-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system

The case was 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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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated April 12, 2018