Saturday, May 4, 2013

Homeowner Facing Foreclosure Dodges Serious Jail Time, Gets Five Months Instead For Torching Home To Pocket Insurance Cash; Basement Blaze Set While Suspect's Wife Lay Asleep Upstairs

In Rockland, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reports:

  • A 52-year-old South Thomaston man was sentenced [] to five months in jail after admitting he set fire to his home in an effort to collect insurance.

    Dana R. Benner was sentenced Monday morning in Knox County Superior Court to six years in jail with all but five months suspended for arson. Benner also will be placed on probation for three years. During that probationary period, Benner is prohibited from possessing incendiary devices including a cigarette lighter or cigarettes.

    Justice Jeffrey Hjelm cited the potential injury to first responders such as firefighters from the two towns that responded to the Sept. 2, 2008, fire.

    The judge also pointed out that Benner’s wife was asleep upstairs in the house when Benner used a match to set fire to clothes in the basement.

    Defense attorney Jonathan Handelman cited his client’s mental health issues in seeking no jail time for his client. Handelman said the Dana Benner before the court Monday was not the same man at the time of the fire.

    Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald cited evidence that Benner wanted to get rid of the house that was near foreclosure.

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