Pa. Man Arrested for Arson; Blamed Dog for Firre

May 13, 2002

According to a report from the Associated Press, police have arrested 37-year old Michael Boltz of Lebanon Pa. on charges of deliberately setting fire to his house, and falsely blaming it on his dog, in order to obtain a $145,000 settlement from his insurance company.

Boltz, who was in debt and in danger of losing his house, allegedly singed his dog Jake’s tail and told investigators that the animal had been responsible for setting the fire by knocking over some candles. In fact, as he eventually admitted to his ex-fiancee, he set fire to the house himself by lighting a curtain on fire with a candle.

He was charged with arson, as well as cruelty to animals, and is currently free on bail. Unfortunately Boltz’ alleged acts aren’t isolated incidents, as neighboring New York’s “Arson Awareness Week” campaign made clear.

According to the New York State Insurance Department, arson is “involved in 28% of auto claims; 25% of workers compensation claims and 3-10% of health care expenditures.” The figures were released last week in conjunction with the campaign.

The NYSID said it received 184 reports of suspicious fires related to insurance fraud and opened 22 cases in 2001. It didn’t indicate if any of them involved dogs, however.

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