State Farm Agent Faces Charges in Alleged Insurance Scam

February 21, 2001

Editor’s note: In a response to a question which read, have you ever at any time been under indictment for any crime, Dr. Saracino’s answer is yes. On Feb. 13, 2001, Barbara and her husband were indicted for a violation of 18 U.S.C. 844 (h) (1) and 18 U.S.C. 1341. This indictment alleged that James and Barbara Saracino had conspired to burn down their house in 1995. The indictment was dismissed on Nov. 26, 2001. The indictment was dismissed on the government’s motion.

John Manwaring, 38, of Brooksville, Ken. pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court to charges he set fire to the house and cars of Bucks County residents James and Barbara Saracino as part of an alleged $1.1 million insurance-fraud scam.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer, Manwaring, the Saracinos’ former handyman, alleged the couple paid him $13,000 to set fire to their $500,000 home and two Mercedes-Benz autos. The Saracinos subsequently collected more than $1.1 million in payments from State Farm Insurance Co., for which James Saracino, 47, has worked for nearly 20 years as an agent.

Manwaring, who agreed to plead guilty to one count of setting a fire to commit a felony, is set to testify against the Saracinos. He will be sentenced after the Saracinos’ trial is completed. James and Barbara Saracino pleaded not guilty during an arraignment and were released on $100,000 bond each.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Miller is prosecuting the case. If convicted, the Saracinos and Manwaring face a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. Prosecutors allege that Manwaring set the Saracinos’ house and cars ablaze by igniting rags soaked with flammable chemicals on Feb. 2, 1995.

However, Manwaring became trapped on the roof of the house during the act and was rescued by a neighbor. It is further alleged that Manwaring and the Saracinos planned the fire to be set during the couple’s vacation in St. Thomas.

In addition, the Saracinos and Manwaring removed valuable items from the home prior to the fire. According to the indictment, the Sacracinos allegedly attempted to dissuade Manwaring from talking to federal prosecutors and told the handyman they would retain a lawyer for him in the event he was charged with setting the fire.

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