U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of California
Northern District of California
For Immediate Release
May 13, 2011
Melinda Haag, United States Attorney
Contact: Jack Gillund
Business Owner Indicted for Fraud and Arson Related to 2006 Mountain View Fire
Fauzia Lodhi, owner of Postal Express, charged with burning building to collect insurance
SAN JOSE – A federal grand jury in San Jose indicted Fauzia Lodhi, of Mountain View, California, on May 11, 2011 with wire fraud, mail fraud, and arson charges, United States Attorney MELINDA HAAG announced.
According to the indictment, Ms. Lodhi, 51, is alleged to have caused a fire at her business, Postal Express, located at 801 West El Camino Real, Mountain View California, and then submitted fraudulent insurance claims to her insurer. The indictment also alleges that Ms. Lodhi intentionally provided falsely inflated inventory and revenue statements, including falsely asserting that personal loans were business income, to a State Farm insurance agent in order to induce State Farm to insure Postal Express for business interruption and loss of business personal property in excess of the actual value of the business.
Ms. Lodhi, having secured an insurance policy far in excess of the actual worth of the revenue and business personal property at Postal Express, intentionally caused the setting of a fire inside the building housing Postal Express in order to collect on the inflated insurance policy.
The indictment alleges that Ms. Lodhi then submitted insurance claims to State Farm based on the falsely inflated inventory and revenue statements. She also intentionally misrepresented the amount of business interruption insurance payments and loss of business personal property insurance payments to which she was entitled under her State Farm insurance policy. Ms. Lodhi immediately used the fraudulently-obtained business interruption payments to satisfy her outstanding debts.
Ms. Lodhi made her initial appearance in federal court in San Jose on May 12, 2011, and is currently out on bond. Bond was set at $100,000, and the defendant is required to report to PreTrial Services as well as submit to electronic monitoring. The defendant’s next scheduled appearance is at 9:00 a.m. on June 16, 2011, for status before Judge Jeremy Fogel.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of Wire Fraud in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 1343 is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 1341 is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for Malicious Use of Fire, in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 844(i) is 20 years imprisonment, with a and a fine of $250,000. The statutory penalty for Use of Fire in Commission of Federal Felony, in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 844(h)(1), is 10 years imprisonment consecutive to any other sentence, and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Matt Parrella is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lauri Gomez and Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Mountain View Police Department, and the Mountain View Fire Department.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Ms. Lodhi must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Case #: CR-11-00309 JF
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Web site at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court's Web site at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Jack Gillund at (415) 436-6599 or by email at Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov.