WELCH, WV (WVNS) – A McDowell County man was sentenced to prison and two other men pleaded guilty today in connection with an arson fraud scheme.
Douglas Vineyard, 36, of Welch, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for wire fraud. Scott Meadows, 52 of Welch, and Christopher Gross, 44 of Bluefield, Virginia, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
According to court information, on July 1, 2019, Vineyard bought a house on Princeton Street in Bluefield for $5,000 at the direction of Gross. On July 31, 2019, Vineyard bought an insurance policy on the house with assistance from Gross, stating that the house’s purchase price had been $50,000. The insurance coverage included $285,500 for the house, $142,750 for the contents and $14,275 for other structures.
In early August of 2019, Vineyard, Gross and Meadows devised a scheme to burn down the house and collect the insurance proceeds. There were allegedly others involved in the plan. On August 6, 2019, Meadows set fire to the house with the help of two others who were each offered $500 for helping. The house was completely destroyed. On August 16, 2019, Vineyard faxed a Sworn Statement of Proof of Loss seeking $285,500 in insurance proceeds for the house. The insurance company spent over $13,000 investigating Vineyard’s false claim. They eventually denied the claim.
Gross and Meadows are scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2023. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and congratulates the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner.