TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –- (RealEstateRama) — CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced that arson investigators have arrested Victor Herrera, owner of the Tharpe Street business complex, on charges of arson and insurance fraud after an extensive investigation uncovered that he intentionally set his property on fire in order to collect insurance money. The business complex, located at 1109 Tharpe Street in Tallahassee, includes Debo’s Stereo Installations and Super Clean Auto Detailing & Mobile Services.
Following a fire that took place on January 12, 2017, the Tallahassee Fire Department requested the assistance of the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI), to aid in determining the cause and origin of the incident. After an initial survey of the scene, BFAI investigators noted multiple points of origin and determined that the fire had been intentionally set. Insurance fraud investigators were also brought in to assist.
Investigators conducted multiple interviews as part of their subsequent arson investigation. They interviewed the owners of Debo’s Stereo Installations and Super Clean Auto, and spoke with Victor Herrera on several occasions. Herrera was inconsistent with this version of events and his whereabouts on the night of the fire, leading investigators to become suspicious. An individual with evidence of the crime came forward claiming that Herrera had offered a payout in exchange for their silence, which solidified investigators’ suspicions.
During the course of the investigation, Herrera recanted his story and abandoned his insurance claim.
A warrant was issued, and Herrera was arrested without incident on May 25, 2017. He was transported to the Leon County Jail and has been charged with arson, tampering with witnesses, providing false official statements, burning to defraud and insurance fraud. The case will be prosecuted by the Office of State Attorney Jack Campbell, 2nd Judicial Circuit. If convicted, Herrera faces up to 30 years in prison.
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Department of Financial Services that conducts statewide fire, arson and explosives investigations. The Bureau encourages Floridians who suspect or witness suspicious behavior 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.
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Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).
Contact: Jon Moore
Jon.Moore1 (at) myfloridacfo (dot) com