For Immediate Release
Federal Grand Jury Indicts Providence Landlord in Alleged Arson-for-Hire Scheme
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal grand jury returned a nine-count superseding indictment on Tuesday charging a Providence landlord with allegedly masterminding an arson-for-hire conspiracy which resulted in an occupied multi-family dwelling in Providence that he owned being damaged by fire and the collection of $8,000 in insurance payments, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré.
Kormahyah Karmue, 39, of, Providence, was ordered detained in federal custody following his arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan late Tuesday afternoon on charges of conspiracy to commit arson, arson, wire fraud, mail fraud and theft of U.S. government funds. A not guilty plea was entered on Karmue’s behalf.
According to the indictment, it is alleged that Karmue conspired with three others to maliciously damage and destroy by means of fire and explosion a multi-family residence he owned at 31-33 Ida Street in Providence, and that he allegedly devised a scheme in which he defrauded the Allstate Insurance Company of $8,000 in insurance payments.
Additionally, according to the indictment, it is alleged that between July 2009 and August 2011, Karmue fraudulently obtained $61,250 in federally funded unemployment insurance payments from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. It is alleged that Karmue falsely represented that he was unemployed when in fact he was self-employed, engaging in the business of transporting cargo for a fee. Information pertaining to Karmue’s self-employment and alleged unemployment compensation were discovered during the investigation into the alleged arson-for-hire conspiracy.
Three co-defendants charged in this matter remain detained in federal custody. Abraham Kerkula, 20, and Nakele Freeman, 19, both of Providence, were arrested in November 2013 and have since pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit arson and arson affecting interstate commerce. They are awaiting sentencing.
Gbabia Kollie, 27, of Johnston City, Tenn., who was removed from an outbound international flight leaving Atlanta for Liberia and arrested by ATF agents on December 5, 2013, and ordered detained by the court on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to commit arson and arson affecting interstate commerce, is scheduled to be arraigned on charges contained in the superseding indictment on May 29.
An indictment and a criminal complaint are merely allegations and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.
The investigation was conducted by ATF, the Providence Fire Department Arson Squad and the Providence Police Department Detective Bureau.