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

ISSUED 6/25/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SCHOHARIE COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN JAIL

A Schoharie County man who claimed a propane explosion picked him up and threw him outside of his mobile home in the middle of the night will now be landing – in jail.

Judge George Bartlett on Wednesday sentenced James E. Papas, 48, of Gilboa, to six months in jail after Papas pleaded guilty to fourth degree insurance fraud. He was also ordered pay $3,480 in restitution to the Leatherstocking Cooperative Insurance Company.

An arson charge lodged against Papas was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.

Papas was arrested March 9 after an investigation by the New York State Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau, the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and state police at Cobleskill in connection with a fire that destroyed his mobile home.

Papas initially claimed that he was blasted out of a window and thrown 35 feet when a propane explosion occurred inside his Leroy Road home on Oct. 6. He later gave authorities conflicting accounts of the event.

Investigators eliminated a propane furnace as the cause of the fire and determined that several fires had been ignited in outbuildings on Papas’s property. The investigation also revealed that Papas’s homeowners’ insurance policy was scheduled to expire on the day after the fire.

The case was prosecuted by District Attorney James Sackett.
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