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Couple jailed in arson-for-insurance case.

BIScom Subsection: 
Editorial Staff

There's something odd about people who have misspelt names. Brandi is bad enough but to use Allen as a first name is woefully wrong. Welcome to the world of the Pritchards and their burned-down, rented, house.

Steve Allen Pritchard, 44, has been found guilty by a US federal jury of arson and insurance fraud and was sentenced on 1 November, 2018, to 30 years in prison. His wife, Brandi Pritchard, who was his girlfriend at the time of the fire, was sentenced to 121 months after pleading guilty to the same crimes.

The crimes were arson and insurance fraud.

A fireman suffered a heart attack just as the fire was brought under control. But as firemen tried to help their colleague, the fire re-established itself and burnt the house down. In the early morning hours of 30 June, 2011, one or both of the Pritchards set fire to the home and then fled the scene, the charges showed.

On 24 June, 2011, Brandi Pritchard had purchased an insurance policy covering the furniture and personal effects in the rented home she occupied with the man who would, later, become her husband. She then made a claim immediately after the fire. The total destruction of the property destroyed forensic evidence that would have proved arson, prosecutors said. "The Kentucky State Police opened an arson investigation after members of the community reported hearing Steve and Brandi Pritchard brag about setting the fire, but investigators had little to go on beyond hearsay," said the FBI which took over the investigation several years later at the request of the State Police. "In their initial interviews with investigators, Steve Pritchard claimed he left the house around midnight on the night of the fire to drive to Louisville on a delivery for his employer. Brandi Pritchard said she had left for work hours before the fire started."

Mobile phone records disproved Pritchard's presence in Louisville. But they did support Brandi Pritchard's account of her whereabouts : "The cellular records, which were acquired and analyzed by the FBI’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST), supported Brandi Pritchard’s later account that Steve Pritchard drove her to work after setting fire to the home. She logged into her work computer system at 3:34 a.m., according to testimony. Further cell phone data analysis showed that Steve Pritchard then returned to the Columbia area after bringing Brandi to her workplace."

Brandi Pritchard admitted that Steve Pritchard directed her to invent or inflate the value of items lost during the fire in order to receive the full USD50,000 in the policy.

Equally telling was the fact that witnesses said they heard the couple discussing setting the fire and making the claim.