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Eric R. Dinallo   Superintendent of Insurance  25 Beaver Street  New York, N.Y. 10004

ISSUED 10/31/2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROPERTY OWNER ARRESTED FOR ARSON AND FRAUD IN ALBANY

A 28-year-old Cohoes man who reportedly fell behind on the mortgage payments for a four-unit apartment building he owns on Sherman Avenue in Albany was arrested Tuesday for setting fire to the structure just hours after his tenants left the building.

Kerry Bennett, of 61 Heartt Ave., was charged with arson and insurance fraud. The arrest followed an investigation into the June 7 fire by Albany police and fire investigators, the office of District Attorney David Soares and the Frauds Bureau of the New York State Insurance Department. Fire investigators said evidence at the scene led them to believe the fire was intentionally set.

Bennett was arraigned before City Court Judge Rachel Kretzer and remanded to Saratoga County Jail where he was being held for grand larceny in an unrelated case.

According to Investigator Jaclyn Oreshan of the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau, Bennett is accused of setting the fire and trying to defraud State Farm Insurance Company out of more than $50,000, the amount of the insurance claim he filed after the fire at 243 Sherman Ave.

Investigators said that video from a security camera mounted on an adjacent building showed that Bennett was the last person known to be in the house before the fire started. Tenants living in one second floor apartment left the building earlier in the day. The other three apartments were unoccupied.

The late-night fire engulfed the entire top floor of the building and damaged an adjacent home at 241 Sherman Ave., which is also owned by Bennett.

If convicted, Bennett could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. A hearing on the charges will be scheduled in Albany County Court. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Fowler.

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