Wyoming County man convicted of insurance fraud by arson - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Wyoming County man convicted of insurance fraud by arson

Posted:

A Wyoming County man admits to a scheme that involved buying homes and burning them down to collect the insurance money.

NEWS RELEASE:

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – A third man pled guilty today in federal court for his roles in a scheme to commit insurance fraud by arson, announced United States Attorney Michael B. Stuart.  James Keith Browning, age 54, of Hanover, Wyoming County, pled guilty to a charge of arson to commit wire fraud before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.   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 for their joint participation in the investigation. 

“Insurance fraud and arson are serious crimes,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.   “Arson risks property and lives and insurance fraud defrauds all of us.  We will prosecute those crimes every chance we get.”

In the spring of 2013, Browning, Dudley Bledsoe and James “Punkin” Lester devised a scheme to purchase a house, place it in Browning’s name, obtain insurance on it and burn it to collect the proceeds. The property was located at 9068 Interstate Highway in Ikes Fork, West Virginia.  Sometime during the week of August 12-16, 2013, Lester, Bledsoe and Browning manufactured an alibi they could use for when the house was burned. Sometime after the creation of the plan for the alibi, Bledsoe and Browning went to the house in Bledsoe’s vehicle to prepare the house to be burned.  The house burned on August 16, 2013, while Browning and Lester were at the West Virginia State Fair.  Browning then filed a fraudulent claim with the insurance company for the loss of the house and for items purportedly contained in the house. Ultimately, Browning received $100,000 from the insurance company for the false claim. Browning then divided the proceeds with Bledsoe and Lester.  Browning faces 10 years imprisonment when he is sentenced on July 25, 2018.

Bledsoe, age 63, of Hanover, West Virginia, pled guilty on March 14 to related charges and is awaiting sentencing. Ricky Gleason, 54, of Peach Creek, West Virginia, also pled guilty on March 14 to related charges involving a similar scheme connected to a house in Huntington, West Virginia. The sentencing hearings for Bledsoe and Gleason is scheduled for May 30, 2018.

Windel Lester, James Edward Lester, also known as “Punkin,” Georgetta Kenney, and Greg A. Lester 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.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Kidnapping with Intent to Terrorize in Mercer County

    Kidnapping with Intent to Terrorize in Mercer County

    A 19-year-old sits in jail tonight facing kidnapping, domestic battery among other chargers. According to the Mercer County Sheriffs office, they received a tip from a woman who said she heard a girl screaming for help.  They say Hunter Dillow kidnapped a 16-year-old juvenile this morning after an argument between the two when Dillow was driving her home.  After complying to her requests to pull over his vehicle and let her out, Dillow grabbed the girl by her hair and...More >>
    A 19-year-old sits in jail tonight facing kidnapping, domestic battery among other chargers. According to the Mercer County Sheriffs office, they received a tip from a woman who said she heard a girl screaming for help.  They say Hunter Dillow kidnapped a 16-year-old juvenile this morning after an argument between the two when Dillow was driving her home.  After complying to her requests to pull over his vehicle and let her out, Dillow grabbed the girl by her hair and...More >>
  • Father and son kayak the Tug River

    Father and son kayak the Tug River

    Father and son take eight day journey down the Tug River. 

    More >>

    Father and son take eight day journey down the Tug River. 

    More >>
  • A Southwest Virginia county first to approve arming teachers

    A Southwest Virginia county first to approve arming teachers

    A Southwest Virginia county has become the first public school district in Virginia to approve arming teachers. The school board in Lee County, VA voted unanimously this week to arm some of its educators.  The board said the process has been a year in the making and the decision has been met with support from both teachers and parents. "At least it gives us a chance. If we sat there and do nothing, I can't sleep at night knowing that. But I'm going to feel at least we're ...More >>
    A Southwest Virginia county has become the first public school district in Virginia to approve arming teachers. The school board in Lee County, VA voted unanimously this week to arm some of its educators.  The board said the process has been a year in the making and the decision has been met with support from both teachers and parents. "At least it gives us a chance. If we sat there and do nothing, I can't sleep at night knowing that. But I'm going to feel at least we're ...More >>
  • Road work in Princeton to begin on Sunday

    Road work in Princeton to begin on Sunday

    Sunday morning road work in Princeton.

    More >>

    Sunday morning road work in Princeton.

    More >>
  • Even on their day off, town workers gather to pick up litter

    Even on their day off, town workers gather to pick up litter

    If Bluefield, VA is looking a little extra special this morning, that's because some extra special care was put into it this morning!  For the second year in a row, the folks working for the town of Bluefield gathered at Pinehill Park early in the morning to pick up trash throughout the city. Word spread, and even some community members came out to help the cause.  Grabbers, gloves, safety vests and giant orange trash bags were passed around. Groups were organize...More >>
    If Bluefield, VA is looking a little extra special this morning, that's because some extra special care was put into it this morning!  For the second year in a row, the folks working for the town of Bluefield gathered at Pinehill Park early in the morning to pick up trash throughout the city. Word spread, and even some community members came out to help the cause.  Grabbers, gloves, safety vests and giant orange trash bags were passed around. Groups were organize...More >>
  • 16th annual Tazewell County Fiddler Convention promises a musicians haven

    16th annual Tazewell County Fiddler Convention promises a musicians haven

    For 16 years, the Tazewell County Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers convention has been serving up a taste of Appalachian culture. 

    More >>

    For 16 years, the Tazewell County Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers convention has been serving up a taste of Appalachian culture. 

    More >>
  • John Henry Days in Talcott this weekend

    John Henry Days in Talcott this weekend

    The legend of John Henry has been celebrated in Talcott during John Henry days for the last 23 years and this weekend it will happen again.

    More >>

    The legend of John Henry has been celebrated in Talcott during John Henry days for the last 23 years and this weekend it will happen again.

    More >>
  • Summer Slide could impact your child's education

    Summer Slide could impact your child's education

    Summertime might be fun and games, but too much time out of the classroom 

    More >>

    Summertime might be fun and games, but too much time out of the classroom 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly