BLUEFIELD Two men were sentenced for a Mercer County arson scheme.
On Monday, 53-year-old Scott Meadows, of Welch, and 45-year-old Christopher Gross, of Bluefield, Virginia, were sentenced to three years and five months in prison for wire fraud. Each admitted to a role in an arson fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in federal court, co-defendant Douglas Vineyard bought a house on Princeton Avenue in Bluefield, West Virginia, for $5,000 at the direction of Gross on July 1, 2019. On July 31 the same year, Vineyard bought an insurance policy on the house with assistance from Gross. The house’s purchase price was fraudulently reported at $50,000. The insurance coverage included $285,500 for the dwelling, $142,750 for the contents and $14,275 for other structures.
By August of 2019 Vineyard, Gross and Meadows devised a scheme with others to burn down the house and collect the insurance proceeds. According to a press release from the US attorney’s office, Meadows set fire to the house on August sixth with the help of two other individuals paid $500 for their assistance. The house was a total loss. On August 16, 2019, Vineyard faxed a Sworn Statement of Proof of Loss seeking $285,500 in insurance proceeds for the house. The insurance company spent over $13,000 investigating Vineyard’s false claim, ultimately denying it.
Vineyard, 37, of Welch, was sentenced in September to three years and one month in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud.
Gross and Meadows’ three years in prison will be followed by three years of supervised release. They were also ordered to pay $13,140 in restitution.