MCFRS News Release
BETHESDA ARSONIST PLEADS GUILTY IN 2004 SCHEME TO DEFRAUD INSURANCE COMPANY
Thomas Patrick Moriarty, age 38, of Bethesda, Maryland, pleaded guilty on April 17, 2007, in Greenbelt Federal Court to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud an insurance company by setting fire to an insured Bethesda residence in March of 2004. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland announced the plea agreement.
According to the plea agreement, Mr. Moriarty assisted a friend who was involved in the contracting business to burn down an insured house in Bethesda. The unidentified friend purchased the residence, located at 4615 Edgefield Road in Bethesda, in August 2003.
Along with another unidentified business partner they intended to make a lucrative profit by demolishing the residence, subdividing the lots and using the property for new residential construction to be re-sold. The co-schemers also purchased insurance for the residence.
To fraudulently reap the benefits of the insurance policy, the co-schemers planned to substantially damage the residence by fire, for which they would submit a claim on the insurance policy. Moriarty agreed to assist in their arson scheme. To that end, on March 12, 2004, after one of the co-schemers prepared the residence with highly flammable fuel, Moriarty set the residence on fire, causing substantial damage.
On that date, firefighters from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded and extinguished the fire. There were no injuries, but damage was estimated to be over $400,000 in loss. The cause of the fire was suspicious and it was determined to be incendiary or arson.
According to Investigators, after being notified of the loss, the insurance company issued several checks totaling nearly $70,000 as advance payments on the loss and for temporary housing for the insured co-schemers.
When the cause of the fire was investigated initially by personnel assigned to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Fire and Explosive Section (Fire Marshal's Office) and then by the insurance company representatives, the co-schemers endeavored to conceal their involvement in the fire. Among other things, they persuaded another person not to reveal information about the fire to the Fire Marshal's Office, and also provided false and misleading information to the Fire Marshal's Office. Based on advice from Investigators and due some inconsistencies in the suspect's stories concerning the fire, the insurance company did not pay the balance of the claim.
Moriarty faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. In addition to the Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators (County Fire Marshal's Office), Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - Criminal Investigation assisted in the case.