Woman appeals federal arson conviction

By Joe Gorman



A woman convicted in federal court earlier this month for setting fire to a South Side rental property in October for the insurance money has asked a judge to reverse her conviction.

Attorneys for Latasha Curtis, 33, asked Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio to set aside her guilty verdicts and render a judgment of acquittal.

A federal jury convicted Curtis on Aug. 7 of one count of use of fire to commit a felony; one count of malicious damaging or destroying to do so, of any building or real property used in interstate commerce by means of fire; and conspiracy to violate those offenses.

Curtis was convicted of setting a fire to a rental property at 75 Hilton Ave. on Oct. 19, 2013, after a four-day trial. State Farm Insurance Co. paid out $67,916 for a claim that was made.

In her motion, Curtis’ attorneys state that during the trial, two members of the city fire department and an investigator for State Farm testified that they saw no evidence of arson at the home. The motion says all three witnesses testified that the fire was caused by grease and inattentive cooking.

The motion states that prosecutors played tape recordings of Curtis talking to a confidential informant in which she talks about the fire, but there was no evidence presented to back up the conversation on the audio tapes.

Because of the lack of evidence backing up the tapes and the fact that three witnesses testified they saw no evidence of arson, Curtis’ verdict should be overturned and a judgment entry of acquittal entered on her behalf, the motion says.

Sentencing in the case has been set for November.

After Curtis was convicted, her bond was revoked.

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