SACRAMENTO - Jamal Shehadeh, 59, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty to two counts of arson to commit a felony in furtherance of a long-running arson and insurance fraud scheme and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to 30 years in prison, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
“Jamal Shehadeh avoided prosecution for decades as he set fire after fire with complete disregard for the lives of anyone nearby including firefighters,” U.S. Attorney Scott stated. “Shehadeh’s time committing the violent crime of arson and insurance fraud for the purpose of enriching himself has come to an end thanks to the hard work of all the federal law enforcement agencies that investigated and assisted with this case, and the local Sacramento authorities who provided tremendous assistance.”
“Jamal Shehadeh intentionally set fires, which threatened the lives and safety of our community members. The FBI is proud to have partnered with the Sacramento Fire Department, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, and our federal partners to investigate the allegations against Shehadeh to ensure justice was served,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “The length of Shehadeh’s sentence highlights the seriousness of his admitted crimes and ensures he will not pose a threat to the community for decades.”
“Jamal Shehadeh was a serial arsonist who profited over and over again while concealing those profits through nominees and other means,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The scheme netted Shehadeh and his co-defendants over $1.5 million in insurance proceeds while endangering members of the community. Those who line their pockets with profits from these schemes should know that IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to use our financial investigative expertise and work with our great law enforcement partners to bring them to justice.”
According to court documents, from at least December 2009 through September 2013, Jamal Shehadeh participated in an arson fraud scheme with co-defendants Saber Shehadeh and Brian Stone and others. The scheme involved seven fires at six different commercial building locations in Sacramento and Carmichael. The dates and locations of the fires, and the names of businesses at those locations, are as follows:
- 1007 E Street and 427 10th St., Sacramento — December 27, 2009
- George’s Auto Care, 511 Broadway, Sacramento — June 9, 2010
- Tru Value Market, 427 10th St., Sacramento — August 15, 2010
- Galaxy Sacramento, 6964 65th St., Sacramento — April 23, 2012
- Escape Therapy, 5725 Marconi Avenue, Carmichael — September 24, 2012
- Cobblestone Café, 910 University Avenue, Sacramento — October 15, 2012
- Golden Star Auto Supply, LLC, 2764 Fulton Avenue, Sacramento — June 16, 2013
Jamal Shehadeh pleaded guilty to setting or causing to be set the fires at 910 University Avenue on October 15, 2012, and the fire at 2764 Fulton Avenue on June 16, 2013, for the purpose of carrying out insurance fraud. He also admitted to setting or causing to be set the fire on December 27, 2009, at 10th and E Streets in Sacramento, and the fire at 6964 65th Street in Sacramento on April 23, 2012, as a part of the arson and insurance fraud scheme.
According to court documents, the scheme involved numerous forms of fraud, including false statements when acquiring insurance policies, causing damage by fire, and seeking funds from insurance companies using false statements about the cause of the fires, the property and tenant improvements purported to have been damaged in the fire, lost business income resulting from the fires, and the true nature of the entities involved in the demolition and clean-up, as well as the actual clean-up costs.
In some cases, the participants used a company named Wolf & Associates Construction Inc. to pursue insurance claims for demolition and cleanup costs while concealing their relation to it, or used Wolf Construction as a front company purporting to do cleanup that was in fact performed by someone else. Jamal Shehadeh meanwhile controlled a bank account associated with Wolf Construction.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sacramento Fire Department; the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department; and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Anderson and Christopher S. Hales prosecuted the case.
Defendant Jamal Shehadeh is in custody. Co-defendants Saber Shehadeh and Brian Stone are pending trial. The charges against Saber Shehadeh and Brian Stone are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.