McDowell County man sentenced to prison, Two others plead guilty to wire fraud in connection with Mercer County arson scheme

Bluefield, WV (WOAY) – A federal court has sentenced a McDowell County man to prison and charged two accomplices with wire fraud. Douglas Vineyard,36, of Welch, will serve three years and one month in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud. Scott Meadows, 52, of Welch, and Christopher Gross, 44, of Bluefield, VA, plead guilty to wire fraud for their involvement in the scheme.

According to court documents and statements, Vineyard purchased a residence on Princeton Street in Bluefield, West Virginia, for $5,000 at Gross’ instruction. Vineyard secured an insurance policy on the house with Gross’ assistance, claiming the house’s purchase price was $50,000. The policy coverage provided $285,000 for the property,  $142,750 for the contents, and $14,275 for other structures.

In early August 2019, Vineyard, Gross and Meadows conspired with others to burn down the house to collect the insurance money. On August 6, 2019, Meadows set the property on fire with the assistance of two individuals he paid $500 each in exchange for their help. The residence was a total loss, and Vineyard faxed a Sworn Statement of Proof of Loss ten days after the fire seeking $285,000 in insurance proceeds.

The insurance firm spent over $13,000 investigating Vineyard’s claim and ultimately denied it when they discovered it was false. Gross and Meadows will be sentenced on January 9, 2023, and each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

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