Home » UPDATE: Three arrested for role in church fire insurance fraud scheme

UPDATE: Three arrested for role in church fire insurance fraud scheme

by Minden Press-Herald

Three Mississippi residents have been arrested for their involvement in an insurance fraud scheme related to a fire at an abandoned church.

Cynthia Pearson, 66, and Ricky Pearson, 65, both from Jackson, Mississippi, were arrested on Friday, February 16, 2024. Shawn Burton, 52, also from Jackson, was previously arrested in August 2023. All three were booked into the Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

The church, located in the 500 block of Constable Street, had been vacant for several months and did not have working utilities. In April 2023, the Minden Fire Department responded to the blaze. Due to a number of suspicious circumstances, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s (SFM) office was called in to investigate.

After a thorough investigation, SFM deputies, along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), concluded that the fire was intentionally set. Shawn Burton was identified as a suspect and arrested in August. Further investigation led to the arrest of Cynthia and Ricky Pearson, who own the church.

Both Pearsons were charged with arson with the intent to defraud as well as criminal conspiracy. Burton was charged with simple arson of a religious building, simple burglary, and criminal conspiracy.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact the SFM’s Arson Hotline at 1-844-954-1221 or online at lasfm.org. Tips can be submitted anonymously.

The SFM extends thanks to the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office and the ATF for their assistance in the case.

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