Edmonds, a Washington woman sentenced to house arrest for setting her business on fire in an insurance fraud scheme | USAO-WDWA
Seattle – An Edmonds, Washington business owner was today sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years probation, including one year of house arrest, for wire fraud related to the fire April 30, 2018 at his business, CJN Miniatures & Plus, a dollhouse, miniatures, collectibles, and antique shop, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced. Connie L. Bigelow, 54, set the fire trying to raise insurance money to solve her financial problems. During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said he was opting for home confinement due to the COVID pandemic.
According to records filed in the case, Bigelow set his business on fire to collect insurance money as the store struggled to make enough money to pay rent. Bigelow moved his business, CJN Miniatures LLC, to the building at 23030 Highway 99, Edmonds in September 2017. The store maintained an inventory of miniatures and collectibles for sale, consigned items on behalf of other people and was renting space to other sellers. . Between October 2017 and April 2018, the activity fell behind in the payment of rents and payments to consignees.
Bigelow had an insurance policy with State Farm Fire and Casualty Company that covered up to $100,000 in loss of personal business property, as well as loss of income. The policy did not cover losses resulting from arson.
Bigelow set fire to three Thomas Kinkade paintings worth thousands of dollars. In May 2018, Bigelow filed a claim with State Farm for losses resulting from the fire. On May 3, 2018, Bigelow contacted the insurance agent via email in connection with the wire fraud scheme. Bigelow made false statements to law enforcement, as well as State Farm officials as part of the fraud scheme.
Prosecutors had requested a year in prison, citing the inherent danger of the fire and the loss to the community. By pleading guilty, Bigelow agreed to make full restitution. Currently, restitution amounts to more than $200,000 for the owners of the building and about 50 victims who lost items consigned to the fire.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), as well as the Snohomish County Fire Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amy Jaquette.