Florida Makes 3 Arrests in ‘Operation Rent-to-Burn’ Arson Crime Ring

May 22, 2018

Three additional people have been arrested for their various roles in an arson-for-profit scheme that took place over 7 years in three Florida counties, according to a statement from Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

Yamina Grafal, Walther Avila Lainez and Gennie Avila Lainez were arrested last week following a joint investigation conducted by the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Economic Crimes Bureau Arson Squad and CFO Jimmy Patronis’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations.

Members of the crime ring allegedly played various roles when conducting an arson-for-profit scheme, fraudulently collecting at least $187,000 in insurance payouts by setting seven residential structures on fire between 2009-2016 in Miami-Dade, Lee and Collier County.

The investigation was initiated after authorities received information from Citizens Insurance regarding falsified receipts in support of an insurance claim for a fire loss. This investigation revealed that multiple individuals had conspired to rent residential properties, and after obtaining renter’s insurance, intentionally set the homes on fire for economic gain. The fires were set in such a manner that responding fire departments did not suspect criminal activity, the statement said.

The investigation revealed the following locations were intentionally set on fire:

Oct. 11, 2009 – Residential fire at 2161 41 Street SW, Naples, Fla.

Feb. 16, 2010 – Residential fire at 3116 NE 7th Place, Cape Coral, Fla.

June 28, 2012 – Residential fire at 3415 SW 13th Terrace, Miami

Oct. 31, 2014 – Residential fire at 901 NW 50th Street, Miami

Dec. 28, 2014 – Residential fire at 674 Pine Cone Lane, Naples, FL

April 4, 2015 – Residential fire at 5621 NW 10th Avenue, Miami, FL

Dec. 13, 2016 – Planned residential fire at 1850 NW 112th Terrace, Miami, FL

The following individuals have been arrested in connection with the crime spree:

Gennie Avila Lainez – arrested May 17, 2018: Racketeering/Rico, Racketeer/Conspire To, Insurance Claims/False, Arson 1st Degree

Walther Avila Lainez – arrested May 17, 2018: Racketeering/Rico, Racketeer/Conspire To, (3) Insurance Claims/False, Arson 1st Degree, Grand Theft 1st Degree, Grand Theft 2nd Degree. He was taken into custody in Tennessee by ATF agents and the Hamilton County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office. He is in custody pending extradition to Florida.

Yamina Grafal – arrested May 18, 2018: Racketeering/Rico, Racketeer/ Conspire To, (2) Insurance Claims/False/Fraudulent

Vicente Olana – arrested July 8, 2016: Grand Theft 1st Degree, (2) Insurance Claims/False, Arson 1st Degree, Grand Theft 2nd Degree

Kenia Martinez-Rosales – arrested Dec. 15, 2016: Insurance Claims/False/Fraudulent

Luis Rosales – arrested Sept. 30, 2015: Grand Theft

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

“Insurance fraud, especially arson-for-profit schemes, can drive up Floridians’ insurance rates and pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of our neighborhoods and communities,” said Patronis. “Protecting Floridians is our top priority and the collaborative efforts exhibited during this investigation by state and local law enforcement is nothing short of remarkable.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services that conducts statewide fire, arson and explosives investigations. The bureau asks Floridians who believe they may have information surrounding these fires to contact the Arson Tip Hotline by calling 1-877-662-7766. Callers can choose to remain anonymous and any information that leads to a prosecution may be eligible for a cash reward.

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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