Allen County, Kentucky, Resident Pleads Guilty To Malicious Destruction Of Property By Fire And Mail Fraud
The set fire resulted in the death of a firefighter
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – An Adair County, Kentucky resident pleaded guilty yesterday in United States District Court, before District Judge Greg N. Stivers, to charges of setting a fire to her rental home, in order to obtain money, through false pretenses, from a renter’s insurance policy purchased prior to setting the fire, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Brandi Pritchard a/k/a Brandi Waggener, 41, of Columbia, Kentucky, was charged with co-defendant Steve Allen Pritchard a/k/a “Boo” Pritchard, in a grand jury superseding indictment on November 9, 2016.
Pritchard admitted in court that on June 30, 2011, she maliciously damaged and destroyed, by means of fire, the building at 3043 Liberty Road, in Columbia, Kentucky. The fire resulted in the death of a public safety official performing duties as direct and proximate result of the fire.
Specifically, Brandi Pritchard and Steve Allen Pritchard resided in a rental home at 3043 Liberty Road, Columbia, Kentucky. On June 24, 2011, Brandi Pritchard purchased a $50,000 renter’s insurance policy from Grange Insurance Company. When Steve Allen Pritchard found out about the renter’s insurance policy, he allegedly suggested that the couple could intentionally set fire to their residence to collect on the insurance policy. Steve Allen Pritchard allegedly told Brandi Pritchard that he had previously started fires to collect insurance proceeds.
On June 29, 2011, Steve Pritchard sent Brandi Pritchard’s two children and the family dog to stay with friends for the night. In the early morning hours of June 30, 2011, Steve Pritchard allegedly set fire to the residence, and then drove Brandi Pritchard to her job in Somerset. Brandi Pritchard knew that Steve Pritchard had set the fire before they left the house to drive to Somerset.
The fire destroyed the Pritchard’s residence, and during the course of the fighting the fire, Columbia Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Charles Sparks suffered a heart attack. Assistant Chief Sparks never recovered and died on July 8, 2011 as a result of injuries incurred performing his duties on June 30, 2011. Steve and Brandi Pritchard subsequently claimed that they were not at home when the fire started, and speculated that the fire could have started due to electrical problems.
After the fire, Brandi Pritchard submitted an insurance claim to Grange Insurance Company. That claim falsely listed numerous items that the Pritchard’s did not own, and overstated the value of other items. Steve Pritchard allegedly assisted Brandi Pritchard in preparing that false insurance claim, and shared the proceeds of the fraud when Grange Insurance Company paid Brandi Pritchard the full value of the policy. Grange Insurance Company mailed checks to Brandi Pritchard on July 16, 2011, and September 3, 2011, in furtherance of the scheme.
If convicted at trial, Pritchard could be sentenced to no less than seven years and up to life in prison for count 1, and no more than 20 years in prison for count two. Payment of restitution in the amount of $50,000 is a requirement of the plea agreement.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Weiser and Nute Bonner and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.