For Immediate Release
Buffalo Man Found Guilty of Murdering Girlfriend and Setting Fires for Insurance Benefits
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal jury has returned a guilty verdict on all ten counts against Ronald Epps, 47, of Amherst, N.Y., The charges included wire fraud, mail fraud, arson, possession of Molotov Cocktails, maintaining a premises for drug trafficking, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 35 years in prison, a maximum of life, a $1,500,000 fine or both.
“Today’s verdict is believed to be the first instance where this Office has used the federal fraud laws to convict a murderer,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This Office will continue to use all of the resources at our disposal to rid our streets of dangerous predators.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Marangola, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was accused of murdering his fiancee, Angela Moss, on August 27, 2009 in order to collect on the victim's life insurance policy which listed Epps as the sole beneficiary. Ronald Epps and Angela Moss were engaged to be married and lived together on Cascade Drive in the Town of Amherst. Previously, on July 2, 2009, Epps and Moss went to a State Farm Insurance branch to make changes to Moss's life insurance policy. At the time, Epps was a minor beneficiary. The $100,000 policy was changed, making the defendant the sole beneficiary.
On August 27, 2009, Moss left her place of employment at Absolut Care on Armor Road in Orchard Park at 11:00 p.m. The victim was last seen getting into the passenger seat of her car. Moss's body was discovered at 6:00 a.m. the following morning on California Road by colleagues heading into work. The prosecution argued that the defendant waited in the victim's car then drove to California Road where Epps shot Moss once in the back of her head and left her body on the side of the road. The victim's car was also found abandoned nearby.
On September 1, 2009, Epps filed a claim with State Farm Insurance, attempting to collect on Moss's life insurance policy. To date, the defendant has not received any insurance money related to the policy on the late Ms. Moss.
Following Moss's murder, the defendant remained in the apartment the two had lived in together. On August 1, 2010, Epps obtained a renter's insurance policy from State Farm Insurance. The jury found that on October 13, 2010, Epps set fire to the vacant apartment next door with Molotov Cocktails. On this occasion, the damage to the defendant's apartment was minimal. On October 15, the defendant also fire to his own apartment. On May 31, 2011, Epps received $3,769 from State Farm Insurance for damages to his property.
The jury also found the defendant guilty of using his apartment for distributing cocaine. Several witnesses testified that they purchased cocaine and marijuana from the defendant at 21 Cascade Drive. Amherst police officers testified that they seized cocaine, pills, and drug paraphernalia from the defendant’s residence on August 25, 2010.
The case was the culmination of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Steven Dickey, the Orchard Park Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Pacholec, and the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey.
Sentencing is scheduled for December 10, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Richard J. Aracara.