Charges were brought against Leonardo Dan Almonte-Fernandez, 39, on Wednesday for allegedly burning his store, Chevere Mini Market, at Luzerne & Markland Streets on April 25th in an attempt to collect insurance money.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Almonte-Fernandez submitted fraudulent claims to State Farm Fire and Casualty Company seeking $200,000 in insurance proceeds for damages from the fire, for which he claimed no involvement.
Prosecutors say Almonte-Fernandez fell behind on his lease payments to the owner of the building. Earlier this year the Juniata News reported that the store had been cited by the Department of Public Health for underage tobacco sales, and that the store’s license for selling cigarettes would not be renewed in 2020.
“Arson is a dangerous crime and a very real threat to our community,” said John Schmidt, acting Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division.
Almonte-Fernandez was charged by Indictment with one count of malicious damage of a building by means of the use of fire to commit another felony, and three counts of wire fraud, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of PA.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years’ imprisonment, a 10-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, up to 3 years’ supervised release, a $1.25 million fine, and a $500 special assessment.