For Immediate Release
Willoughby Hills Couple Indicted for Insurance-Fraud Arson
CLEVELAND – Rebecca C. Lutzko, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland returned a three-count indictment charging a Willoughby Hills couple with conspiring to set fire to rental properties in order to collect insurance money.
Lonnie White, 46, and Lisa Ogletree, 46, of Willoughby Hills, Ohio, face one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to use fire in commission of a felony.
The indictment charges that from April 2013 through March 2019, White and Ogletree devised a scheme to defraud several insurance companies by setting houses on fire and falsely collecting insurance proceeds. White and Ogletree agreed to purchase ownership rights in houses, recruit additional people to act as nominal owners and renters, and obtain insurance on the houses. White and Ogletree then arranged for the houses to be set on fire while staging the fires to appear accidental. White and Ogletree recruited nominal owners to submit fraudulent loss claims to the house insurers for the fire damage and after payment would distribute the funds to White and Ogletree. White and Ogletree agreed with others to transfer proceeds obtained from the insurance payouts to different accounts. White and Ogletree agreed to use fire to defraud insurance companies.
An indictment is only a charge and is 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. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio would like to acknowledge and thank the Cleveland Fire Investigation Unit; the Cuyahoga County Fusion Center; the Ohio State Fire Marshal; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General for their cooperation with this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian M. McDonough and Adam J. Joines.
ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. Anyone having information about an incidence of arson should contact ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS (888-283- 8477). Individuals may also email ATFTips@atf.gov, or contact ATF through its website at www.atf.gov/contact/atf-tips. Tips may also be submitted to ATF using the ReportIt® app, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, or by visiting www.reportit.com.