Two Plead Guilty to Insurance Fraud by Arson in West Virginia

Two men pled guilty in federal court for their respective roles in a scheme to commit insurance fraud by arson.

Dudley Bledsoe, age 63, of Hanover in Wyoming County, West Virginia, and Ricky Dwayne Gleason, age 54, of Peach Creek in Logan County, West Virginia, both pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful monetary transactions before Senior District Court Judge David A. Faber in Bluefield, West Virginia.

United States Attorney Mike Stuart commended the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

“As West Virginia citizens, we all ultimately pay the price for this type of crime,” Stuart said in a press release published by the United States Department of Justice. “That is why, regardless of the amount of monetary loss, we will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals who perpetrate fraudulent schemes.”

In the spring of 2012, Bledsoe, with the assistance of James Edward Lester and others, purchased a house in Matoaka in Mercer County, West Virginia. The purchase price was approximately $38,000. They insured the property for more than $300,000 and set fire to the house in December of 2012 using cardboard and unscented candle oil.

Bledsoe, with the help of others, then filed false claims for the house and its contents. Bledsoe collected the proceeds and divided them with others involved in the scheme.

In May of 2013, Gleason purchased a house in his name on Norwood Road in Huntington, West Virginia, for $100,000 and insured it for more than $400,000. Funds for the purchase were provided by others involved in the scheme.

A month later, Gleason and others staged the house to be burned using cardboard and unscented candle oil. While Gleason was out of town in order to have an alibi, others connected with the scheme set fire to the house. Gleason filed a claim for the loss of the house as well as false contents lists with the insurance company and collected more than $280,000 in insurance proceeds. The proceeds were divided with others in the scheme.

Bledsoe and Gleason each face up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced on May 30, 2018.

Windel Lester, James Edward Lester, Georgetta Kenney, Greg A. Lester and James Keith Browning are currently facing charges in a 40-count indictment for their respective roles in the scheme. Their trial is set for May 8, 2018, in Bluefield.

Source: United States Department of Justice

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