Two Men Sentenced for Mercer County Arson Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – Scott Meadows, 53, of Welch, and Christopher Gross, 45, of Bluefield, Virginia, were sentenced today to three years and five months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for wire fraud. Each admitted to a role in an arson fraud scheme, and was also ordered to pay $13,140 in restitution.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on July 1, 2019, co-defendant Douglas Vineyard bought a house on Princeton Avenue in Bluefield, West Virginia, for $5,000 at the direction of Gross. On July 31, 2019, Vineyard bought an insurance policy on the house with assistance from Gross, stating that the house’s purchase price had been $50,000. The insurance coverage included $285,500 for the dwelling, $142,750 for the contents and $14,275 for other structures.
In early August 2019, Vineyard, Gross and Meadows devised a scheme with others to burn down the house and collect the insurance proceeds. On August 6, 2019, Meadows set fire to the house with the help of two other individuals who were each offered $500 for their assistance. The house was a total loss. On August 16, 2019, Vineyard faxed a Sworn Statement of Proof of Loss seeking $285,500 in insurance proceeds for the house. The insurance company spent over $13,000 investigating Vineyard’s false claim, ultimately denying it.
Vineyard, 37, of Welch, was sentenced on September 12, 2022, to three years and one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to wire fraud.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner.
Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Boggess and former Assistant United States Attorney R. Gregory McVey prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-131.
Updated March 6, 2023