Trial Ordered for Penn. Homeowner Accused of Arson, Brother’s Death

October 26, 2015

A Pennsylvania man has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he paid his brother to set fire to his northeastern Pennsylvania home as part of an insurance scam, a blaze that claimed his brother’s life.

A Lackawanna County district judge ruled on Oct. 23 that prosecutors have enough evidence to try 58-year-old Diomedes Ceballos of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on charges including second-degree murder and arson, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported.

Authorities said Ceballos, 58, filed an insurance claim of nearly $500,000 after the early morning fire in July that occurred while he was away. He had purchased the home for $80,000, they said.

Police had wanted to interview Aurelio Ceballos, 57, in connection with the blaze, but he was later found dead of serious burns in a bathtub in an apartment.

A friend testified that Aurelio Ceballos told him before he died that his brother agreed to pay $5,000 in insurance money if he burned the house down, so he doused the home in gasoline but caught fire after setting it ablaze.

The friend testified that Aurelio Ceballos begged him not to call 911 because he knew he would go to jail if he went to a hospital.

“Because he started the fire?” defense attorney William Thompson asked fire marshal Martin Monahan, the chief investigator, who replied “With an agreement from his brother.”

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