August 27, 2020
A Philadelphia man set fire to his corner store in an attempt to collect $200,000 in insurance proceeds, federal prosecutors say.
Leonardo Dan Almonte-Fernandez, 39, is facing criminal charges for allegedly scorching Chevere Mini Market in Juniata on April 25 and submitting fraudulent claims to State Farm Fire and Casualty Company.
Almonte-Fernandez rented the building at 1443 E. Luzerne St. He had fallen behind on his lease payments and also been cited by the Department of Public Health for underage tobacco sales, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Almonte-Fernandez was charged Wednesday with two arson-related felonies and three counts of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, three years of supervised release, a $1.25 million fine and a $500,000 special assessment.
"Almonte-Fernandez has a brazen disrespect for the law – and for the safety of his neighbors in this densely-populated residential area," U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said in a statement. "He put other people’s homes and lives at risk, and then attempted to steal insurance money. Arson is a despicable crime."
The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Philadelphia Fire Marshal's Office, and the Arson and Explosives Task Force.