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Arsonist committed the crime and must serve the time



As I have said many times, arson is the most evil form of insurance fraud and one in which people are injured or die. Arson-for-profit fraud is very profitable and is carried out by people who have no concern for the lives or property of others. Some are competent and destroy the property and nothing else. Others are incompetent and injure or kill innocent people.

I United States Of America v. Steve Allen Pritchar d, no. 18-6210, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (July 7, 2020)) Judge Nalbandian, who wrote for the Sixth Circuit, began his view with a wise description of those who commit arson: “Some men just want to see the world burn. . Others start fires to raise insurance money. "Steve Pritchard is the latter.

After playing with fire several times, Pritchard's penchant for taking advantage of arson took a fatal turn. Instead of just damaging property, a fire started by Pritchard in June 201

1 led to the death of firefighter Charles Sparks. The question before the Sixth Circuit was whether Pritchard caused Spark's death within the meaning of the Federal Fire Code.

THE QUESTIONS

Pritchard's appeal addresses the first causes. Common law usually only allows liability when the perpetrator acts both for and for the legal cause of the damage. Laws that invoke close causation are generally held liable when the damage was foreseeable. According to the Fire Charter, Spark's death need only be "a direct or immediate result of [Pritchard’s] conduct." Sparks claimed that he was neither a direct nor immediate cause of Sparks' death.

FACTS

At 03:05 on June 30, 2011, a 911 caller reported a fire at the Pritchard residence. Eleven minutes later, firefighters, including Assistant Chief Charles Sparks, arrived at the scene. These firefighters found the house engulfed in "[a] a lot of fire, a lot of flames." During the fire, sparks lost consciousness. Eight days later, Sparks died after having his lifeline removed.

To Brandi Pritchard's alleged surprise, Pritchard decided to drive her to work that morning and told her that "it would be a good morning to move on and start… This fire in this house [.]" On the way to the work, Pritchard proclaimed, "I did it [,]" referring to the fire, Pritchard had arranged for Brandi & # 39 ;s children and his dog to be out of the house that morning, and later Brandi & # 39; the fire he took from his phone and that Pritchard indicated that he started the fire.

Pritchard wanted Brandi to tell investigators that he had spent the night in Louisville, and that is the same story he gave to the police. Celltorn's records revealed that Pritchard had not been in Louisville on the night of the fire.

Six days before the fire, Brandi purchased $ 50,000 insurance for the house. tchard found out about the insurance, he commented "how easy it would be to burn the house and get the money for it." After the fire, Brandi collected his insurance. In the subsequent investigation of the fire, conducted by Kentucky State Police and the FBI, Pritchard pressured Brandi to lie to cover arson. Worried about Brandi's determination, Pritchard threatened violence to force Brandi not to confess. Pritchard's threats continued for years; after the FBI interviewed Pritchard in 2014, he broke into Brandii's house and threatened to harm her and her children if she told the truth about arson. Brandi eventually acknowledged its role in arson, insurance fraud and protection.

At Pritchard's trial, Dr. Thomas Hale concludes that firefighting "triggered" Sparks' fatal heart attack. Regardless of the arguments, objections and proposals of his lawyer Pritchard, he was convicted and given a 360-month sentence for a fire chair that caused death and a simultaneous 240-month period for e-mail fraud.

ANALYSIS

There was no doubt that an arsonist started a fire to collect insurance money. A firefighter lost his life and released this fire. The firefighter had a history of heart disease and passed away from a heart attack that suffered during the fire. Pritchard, who started the fire, claimed he was not responsible for the firefighter's existing heart disease. But the government claimed that Pritchard's burning started predictable events where a firefighter could lose his life.

The Charter allows for punishment when "death results in any person, including any public security officer performing tasks as a direct or immediate result of conduct prohibited under this subsection [.]" [18 U.S.C. § 844(i)] covers the illegal destruction of a building or other property by fire covers the damage caused by Pritchard's combustion. The case was activated when death is a "direct or near result" of arson.

Although the immediate cause lacks an "exact definition", causal language usually injects a predictive element into the charter. Usually, the immediate cause is a narrower area of ​​responsibility than an actual or direct cause.

A fundamental principle of criminal law is that a person is held liable for all consequences that are closely caused by his criminal conduct. Therefore, where events are foreseeable and of course stem from one's criminal behavior, the chain of legal causation is considered to be unbroken and the perpetrator is held criminally liable for the resulting damage.

Pritchard's theory that there can only be one cause of death sufficient for the introduction of liability flows precedent. It is true that sparks suffered from serious illnesses, including diabetes and blocked arteries, and evidence showed that Sparks had not taken his prescribed heart medication or insulin for a long time. Pritchard argued that the presence of these other factors that could have been the cause of Spark's heart attack meant that the fire could not closely cause Spark's death.

Although Pritchard offered evidence that Spark's pre-existing medical condition led to his death, after hearing and evaluating all the evidence presented at the trial, the jury found an unbroken chain of cause between the fire and Spark's heart attack. After all, the government went in for evidence that firefighting strains the heart, which means that heart attacks can be caused by responding to arsons just like severe burns. And to show the immediate cause, the government only needed to provide sufficient evidence that Spark's death was a predictable and natural result of Pritchard's actions.

Since the jury relied on evidence to show that Pritchard most likely caused Spark's death, a direct causal analysis is unnecessary.

Given Brandi's testimony, neutral party testimony, and Pritchard's erroneous alibi, the jury had enough evidence to convict Pritchard without relying on his past bad deeds or West's expert opinion, so that any error in acknowledging that evidence would be harmless and Pritchard's argument failed.

Pritchard came up with the idea of ​​arson, presented it to Brandi for recruitment purposes, tried to sway her when she opposed, bragged about being a "genius" at arson insurance fraud, planned the logistics for the fire, led the encirclement and threatened domestic violence to execute the agent.

Pritchard's conviction and verdict were confirmed.

Pritc Hard was and is a very bad man. He set several fires in his criminal career. The last firebrand proved that he was not the fire shield he believed. He had an incompetent alibi; involved Brandi as his alibi and accomplice, threatened to kill her and her children if she refused to lie and did so badly that she testified against him. He immediately and almost caused a firefighter death and as a result deserved the punishment he received. He should spend all 360 months in federal prison and will have time to think about why he did not commit insurance fraud that did not endanger firefighters.


© 2020 – Barry Zalma

Barry Zalma, Esq. , CFE, now limits its practice to acting as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, handling insurance claims, bad faith insurance and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also acts as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance-related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and attorney-at-law attorney and more than 52 years in the insurance industry. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine / ACE Legend Award.

For the past 52 years, Barry Zalma has devoted his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following libraries of books and other materials to enable insurance companies and their claims staff to become professional insurance claims.

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