Man guilty in arson-for-cash scheme

WARREN — On the day his jury trial was set to begin, a Warren man accused in an arson-for-cash scheme pleaded guilty to seven of eight charges.

Daryl Evans of Warren withdrew a former plea of not guilty and agreed to a plea deal this week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Evans was indicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, two counts of mail fraud, two counts of use of fire in a felony, and two counts of destroying property used in interstate commerce. He pleaded guilty to all but one count of use of fire in a felony, court records show.

The charges relate to fires set between 2013 and 2015 at 1628 Hamilton St. SW and 267 Parkman Road, which were rental properties owned by Evans.

The first fire, set Aug. 19, 2013, at the Hamilton house while the resident was in the hospital, damaged parts of the second floor and earned Evans a $6,000 payout from the State Farm Insurance Company, despite an investigator determining the fires were intentionally set, according to a prosecutor’s brief.

The brief states that Evans asked his brother and co-defendant, Maurice Evans, to set the fire. Maurice hired a “drug addict,” who he paid in cash and drugs, the brief states.

Several more fires were set at the same property in the spring of 2014, resulting in an insurance payout.

In January of 2015, the Parkman Road house also was set on fire after it became vacant. David White is suspected of starting the blaze, the brief states.

The alleged scheme cost State Farm more than $100,000, according to the indictment.

Secret recordings made by Maurice at the behest of FBI investigators include discussions with his brother about prior payments and future fires for profits, according to prosecutors.

A pretrial investigation is underway, with Daryl’s sentencing set for July 25 at noon.

Maurice pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in February and is set to be sentenced June 6 at noon, according to court records.

White, who was also charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, likewise pleaded guilty. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 8.

Daryl Evans is out of jail on bond with the condition that he remains under house arrest with GPS monitoring, according to court documents.