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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Providence Landlord Pleads Guilty to Arson Related Charge in Arson-for-Profit Scheme

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rony Metellus, 52, of Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence on Monday to setting fire on July 23, 2014, to an occupied three family tenement building he owned in an effort to benefit by the collection of insurance payments, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré and Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of ATF. 

Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Metellus pleaded guilty to one count of defrauding an insurance company – wire fraud.

According to information presented to the court, an investigation by the Providence Fire Department Arson Squad, the Providence Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with the assistance of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, determined that an early morning fire on July 23, 2014 to an occupied three family tenement at 346 Admiral Street in Providence was intentionally set. The investigation determined that the building’s owner, Rony Metellus, intentionally set fire to the building in order to collect insurance payments.

At the time of the fire, three adults and three children were living in a first floor apartment. The second and third floors, including the apartment where the fire was intentionally set, were vacant. The building sustained significant damage.

At the time of his guilty plea, Metellus admitted to the court that he drove from his Providence home at approximately 3:30 in the morning on July 23, 2014, set fire to the Admiral Street building and quickly returned home as Providence fire apparatus were responding to the fire.

Surveillance videos reviewed by investigators captured Metellus leaving his home a mile away from his rental property, arriving and then departing eight minutes later from the vicinity of his property, and then returning to his home as Providence firefighters were responding to a reported fire at his Admiral Street property.

Metellus admitted to the court that he hired a public adjuster to represent him in filing an insurance claim for damages to the burned building. Records indicate a claim was filed with the insurer, Lloyd’s of London. The defendant’s claim was filed through a local insurance agency.

Metellus, who has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on August 8, 2014, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3, 2015.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
15-68
Updated August 4, 2015