Sunday, September 04, 2016

Already In Hot Water On Forged Check Charges, Homeowner In Foreclosure Gets Pinched For Allegedly Torching Home In Attempt To Score Insurance Proceeds; Prosecutor: Suspect Completed Insurance Claims Forms Prior To Fire Taking Place

In Bellingham, Washington, The Bellingham Herald reports:
  • A former branch manager of Chicago Title in Lynden has pleaded not guilty to the arson of her own home northeast of Bellingham.

    The four-bedroom house [...] caught fire a little after 11 p.m. April 19, 2015, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. Flames tore through the roof before firefighters could extinguish them.

    No one was hurt, but the single-story house and attached garage were total losses.

    The house was in foreclosure with a sale date set for June, because the resident, Kathleen Ruth Kooch, 48, had stopped making mortgage payments, charging papers say. She still owed more than $480,000. Kooch kept paying for insurance, however, on a coverage plan worth more than $1 million.

    Hours after the fire Kooch met investigators, with finished insurance documents. She said she’d already made a claim with her insurance company, according to the charges.

    These documents would have been prepared by Kooch prior to her even seeing the fire,” charging papers say.
    ***
    Investigators with the county fire marshal’s office quickly suspected arson based on burn patterns and evidence suggesting it was sparked by matches or a lighter, charging documents indicated. The fire had started in a mudroom, between the kitchen and garage, with doors left open to help the flames spread, said Deputy Prosecutor Evan Jones.
    ***
    Kooch has no felony record in Washington state, but she has another case pending against her.

    Last year Kooch and [boyfriend Steven] Sigur were charged with felony theft in an alleged scheme where they forged checks from Chicago Title, and cashed them under Sigur’s other names.

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