Arson for Profit So Obvious Insured Sentenced to 20 to 40 Months in Prison

It Takes Skill to Succeed at Arson for Profit

A successful fraudulent claim will often encourage a new fraudulent claim. Julia Ann Calipo found that twice was not the charm and was convicted by a jury and sentence to time in prison.

In Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania v. Julia Ann Calipo, J-S21006-18, No. 1929 WDA 2016, Superior Court of Pennsylvania (MAY 31, 2018) appealed from the judgment of sentence entered on November 3, 2016 in the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County.

FACTS

Appellant’s conviction in this case arose from an intentional fire that destroyed her residence on February 18, 2015 and a related insurance claim that Appellant submitted to Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate) for loss of dwelling and contents. On November 20, 2014, Appellant applied to Allstate for homeowners’ insurance coverage. Based upon information provided by Appellant, Allstate issued a policy that became effective on December 3, 2014.

Allstate commissioned a home inspection that was scheduled for December 1, 2014. The inspection revealed material misrepresentations by Appellant regarding the condition of the property and the age of improvements to the structure. Based upon the findings of the inspection, Allstate cancelled its policy on the residence effective February 26, 2015.

On February 18, 2015, eight days before the scheduled termination of Appellant’s homeowners’ coverage, a fire broke out at the East 32nd Street residence. The evidence at trial showed that Appellant, and possibly an adult child, were the only individuals who had keys or access to the premises and that Appellant was the last person to leave the residence that evening. Allstate hired a private investigator, Robert Rice, to determine the cause of the fire. Rice determined that the fire was set intentionally and that it was caused by the ignition of a stove that contained an aerosol can and clothing. Guy Santone, Fire Chief for the City of Erie Fire Department, also investigated the fire and agreed with Rice that the fire at the East 32nd Street residence was set intentionally.

Appellant submitted an insurance claim to Allstate on February 18, 2015. The claim was referred to Allstate’s Special Investigative Unit given its suspicious circumstances, including the 2011 fire and the fact that the fire occurred while Appellant’s homeowners’ policy was in cancellation status. While the investigation was ongoing, Allstate paid certain sums to Appellant. On November 17, 2015, however, Allstate denied coverage for Appellant’s claimed losses due to Appellant’s failure to cooperate, misrepresentations in Appellant’s list of contents and her statement under oath, and Allstate’s determination that the fire was set intentionally.

Criminal Charges

The Commonwealth filed an amended criminal information on September 13, 2016 charging Appellant with arson – endangering persons, arson – endangering property, risking catastrophe, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, and two counts of insurance fraud. Following a three-day trial that concluded on September 21, 2016, a jury found Appellant guilty of all charges. On November 3, 2016, Appellant received an aggregate sentence of 20 to 40 months’ incarceration, followed by seven years’ state probation.

The Appeal

In her brief to this Court, acting as her own lawyer, Appellant lists 25 issues for review. Many of Appellant’s claims were not included within her January 6, 2017 concise statement, others are repetitive, several assert the ineffectiveness of trial counsel, and still others incoherently allege corruption and misconduct on the part of the trial judge and prosecuting attorneys. For these reasons, we have confined our review of this appeal to the issues addressed in the trial court’s April 13, 2013 opinion.

After careful review of the parties’ submissions, the opinion of the trial court, the certified record, and pertinent case law, the appellate court concluded that Appellant is not entitled to relief. Moreover, in light of its determination that the trial court’s opinion adequately and accurately addresses the issues that were properly raised and preserved in this appeal, it adopted the court’s April 13, 2017 opinion as its own.

ZALMA OPINION

It does not pay to represent yourself. Ms. Calipo succeeded in a claim to Allstate and decided it was easy to cheat Allstate. She was proved wrong by setting fire to her house a few days before the cancellation became effective. Arson is a dangerous crime where people often are injured or die. Her sentence was fair and her appeal a waste of the court’s time.


© 2018 – Barry Zalma

This article, and all of the blog posts on this site, digest and summarize cases published by courts of the various states and the United States.  The court decisions have been modified from the actual language of the court decisions, were condensed for ease of reading, and convey the opinions of the author regarding each case.

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant  specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 50 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.

New Books From Full Court Press

Full Court Press continues to publish expert secondary content. This time it’s a new collection of ew insurance law treatises from consultant, expert witness, arbitrator, and mediator Barry Zalma.

Barry Zalma practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims-handling lawyer, and has spent more than 50 years in the insurance business. We welcome his deskbooks as the first published under our Full Court Press imprint. Three titles are available in ePub and MOBI format, as well as on the Fastcase legal research platform.

Insurance Law Deskbook: Learn the insurance basics that are essential to every civil practitioner.

California Insurance Law Deskbook: California has long led the way when it comes to insurance jurisprudence in the United States, and few know more about California insurance law than Barry Zalma.

Insurance Bad Faith and Punitive Damages Deskbook: Understand the relationship between insurance, the tort of bad faith, and why punitive damages are awarded to punish insurers.

An annual subscription to secondary content on the Fastcase platform includes new editions and updates published by the author as they are rolled out, so you can rest assured that your research is up to date. Go to fastcase.com for more detail and how to use the material on-line as part of your legal or insurance research or as stand-alone e-books.

Mr. Zalma’s books available as Kindle books or paperbacks at Amazon.com can be reached at http://zalma.com/zalma-books/

Mr. Zalma’s reports can be found on Tumbler at https://www.tumblr.com/search/bzalma  on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barry.zalma and you can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bzalma

Legal Disclaimer:

The author and publisher disclaim any liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this blog. The information provided is not a substitute for the advice of a competent insurance, legal, or other professional. The Information provided at this site should not be relied on as legal advice. Legal advice cannot be given without full consideration of all relevant information relating to an individual situation.

 

 

Share

About Barry Zalma

An insurance coverage and claims handling author, consultant and expert witness with more than 48 years of practical and court room experience.
This entry was posted in Zalma on Insurance. Bookmark the permalink.