Man gets 20 years in arson scheme


By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

CLEVELAND

A federal judge has sentenced a key defendant in a Mahoning Valley arson-for-profit scheme to 20 years in prison and ordered him to pay $778,649 in restitution to three insurance companies.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells imposed the sentence Thursday on Majeed Bazazpour, 46, of Boardman, and remanded him to the immediate custody of U.S. marshals.

After a two-month jury trial, Bazazpour was convicted in March of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, arson and money laundering, and aiding and abetting each of those crimes.

Bazazpour belonged to three interrelated criminal conspiracies involving a scheme to defraud insurance companies and obtain money by setting nine fires at Mahoning and Trumbull county businesses, a U.S. attorney said.

A co-defendant, Frank Tenney, 31, of Masury, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and aiding and abetting attempted arson, was sentenced to two years in prison. Two other Youngstown-area defendants were acquitted by the jury of all charges.

Between 1995 and 2005, Bazazpour and his co-conspirators falsified insurance applications, hid true ownership relationships for some businesses and failed to disclose prior property-loss claims when applying for insurance, the U.S. attorney said.

Three Youngstown business properties were total losses after arsons committed by members of the conspiracies, the U.S. attorney said.

Insurance companies paid about $1 million on the fire claims; and proceeds of the arson conspiracy were then laundered through various bank accounts in an effort to conceal the true recipients of the insurance proceeds, the government said.

“Defendant intentionally acted with complete disregard of the lives and safety of firefighters and society in order to make a profit,” wrote assistant U.S. Attys. Phillip J. Tripi and Ian D. Hoffman in a sentencing memorandum.

“He has not once shown remorse for his conduct or the lives he has risked,” the two federal prosecutors wrote. They asked the judge to give Bazazpour a prison term somewhere between 22 years and 7 months and 25 years and 8 months.

Saying Bazazpour acted under coercion from a ringleader, who fled to Iran after being indicted in this case, defense lawyer Lawrence Delino Jr. of Akron asked the judge to limit Bazazpour’s prison term to the mandatory 10-year minimum.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Youngstown police and arson bureau; the Warren Township Police and Fire departments; and the Trumbull County Fire and Explosion Unit.

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