An Illinois man admitted guilt in federal court last week for his involvement in a scheme to commit arson on residential properties and collect fraudulent insurance benefits.
Rufis A. Jefferson, 47, of Venice, Illinois, pleaded guilty to 14 federal felony charges: one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit arson.
According to court documents, Jefferson admitted to being paid off by a family member to burn her St. Louis apartment on December 31, 2022, so that she could collect insurance money. In addition to the New Years Eve fire at Spanish Lake Apartments, Jefferson admitted to conspiring with this relative to burn two additional buildings in Granite City and Venice.
A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) confidential informant recorded many of the planning conversations and these Illinois buildings were not burned. The relative’s insurer is estimated to have paid out more than $30,000 for the St. Louis apartment fire.
Evette B. Osuegbu, 61, of Granite City, is also charged in the indictment and facing accusations for committing the same 14 federal crimes.
“Under federal law, intentionally igniting residential buildings to file insurance claims for the damages and collect benefits is committing fraud, and law enforcement is working to prosecute offenders of these hazardous crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe.
Jefferson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 25, 2024. His charges are punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment per count.
ATF led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Burke and Zoe Gross are prosecuting the case.
Source: Southern District of Illinois
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