Man gets 20 years to life in prison for Jamaica arson

By Courtney Dentch

A landlord from Manhattan was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years to life in prison for setting a fire in his Jamaica building in an insurance scam that resulted in injuries to three firefighters and serious burns to his alleged accomplice, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Emile Moreau, 47, of 201 W. 120th St. in Manhattan was convicted last month in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens of setting a fire in the building he owned at 198-12 Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica in order to file a false insurance claim, Brown said.

Judge Arthur Cooperman, who presided over the trial, sentenced Moreau Tuesday to 20 years to life in prison on fraud, conspiracy, arson and attempted murder charges.

“The defendant has now been punished for his dangerous plot to set fire to a heavily mortgaged building that he owned and lived in to enable him to file an insurance claim and receive a settlement,” the DA said. “Firefighters placed their lives at grave risk, three of them were injured battling the blaze and their quick response and effective action saved the accomplice’s life.”

According to testimony from the trial, more than 30 firefighters responded to a fire at 198-12 Jamaica Ave. just before 5 a.m. Dec. 4, 2000 and found the building filled with smoke and flames, Brown said. Firefighters broke down the door and found Moreau’s accomplice, Vincent Allen of Brooklyn, lying on the floor with third-degree burns to his face, arms and hands.

Three firefighters also suffered injuries, with one man tearing his knee ligaments and two others suffering shoulder and back strains, Brown said.

An investigation showed that gasoline had been splashed around the building, which had sustained $50,000 in damages, the DA said.

Allen was arrested and charged with arson in July 2002, and Moreau was charged the following month, Brown said. Allen testified against Moreau as part of the prosecution’s case.

A criminal complaint charged Moreau with offering to pay Allen in exchange for helping him set the fire. Moreau was more than $50,000 in arrears on mortgage payments and owed more than $200,000 to Oowen Federal Bank for the property, Brown said.

After the fire, Moreau filed a claim with his insurance agent for $25,000.

Moreau was found guilty by a jury Feb. 13, the DA said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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