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James J. Wrynn    Superintendent of Insurance    25 Beaver Street  New York, N.Y. 10004

ISSUED 3/12/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SCHOHARIE COUNTY MAN ARRESTED FOR ARSON, INSURANCE FRAUD

A Schoharie County man who claimed he was thrown 35 feet out of his mobile home by the force of a propane explosion that set fire to the structure was arrested Tuesday, the New York State Insurance Department reported.

State police at Cobleskill arrested James E. Papas, 48, of Gilboa, following an investigation by the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau and the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control. He was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail following his arraignment in Schoharie Town Court.

Papas claimed he was thrown out of a bedroom window by the explosion which occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 6. He told authorities he landed on the ground 35 feet from the mobile home which was destroyed by fire.

Following the incident, he drove himself to Cobleskill Regional Hospital where he received emergency room treatment for minor injuries. He later filed an insurance claim for the loss of the mobile home and was paid $2,000 through his homeowners’ insurance policy.

However, investigations later determined that the mobile home’s furnace did not explode and that the fire had been purposefully set. They also learned that his homeowners’ insurance policy was scheduled to expire two days after the fire.

Papas faces charges of third degree insurance fraud and third degree arson. He was released pending a hearing in Schoharie County Court. He could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

Papas’s arrest occurred two weeks after the arrest of his wife, Charlene L. Papas. She is accused of intentionally burning her car on Jan. 7. She also faces charges of insurance fraud and arson.

Both cases are being prosecuted by the office of Schoharie County District Attorney James Sackett.

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