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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
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