Arsonist Must Serve Full Sentence

Chutzpah: Serial Arsonist & Insurance Fraudster Requests Shortened Sentence

Post 4827

See the full video at  and at

Arson-for-Profit is the most evil form of insurance fraud where people may be injured or die. Defendant Michael Thomas set fire to many properties in a mobile home park and then used the mail to collect insurance money. He was charged with four counts of mail fraud, went to trial and the jury convicted him on all counts. The Court sentenced him to a below-guidelines sentence of ninety months of imprisonment. His sentence is set to expire on February 11, 2025. Mr. Thomas is currently under home confinement under the CARES Act.

In United States Of America v. Michael Thomas, No. 3:18-CR-45 JD, United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division (June 6, 2024) Proceeding pro se, Mr. Thomas moved for a reduction in his sentence and the court considered his claims and rejected them.


After serving time in prison, Mr. Thomas was released by the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to home confinement under the CARES Act to finish the rest of his sentence, which is expected to end next February. Mr. Thomas claims that the BOP is prohibiting him from securing employment as a pilot, a job which he held before being convicted of the fraud offenses. He states that he needs this job to maximize his income in order to repay restitution, support his family, and repay student debts. Mr. Thomas insists that his inability to work because of home confinement constitutes atypical circumstances warranting compassionate release.


A court generally cannot modify a sentence once the sentence has been imposed. An exception to that general rule allows a court to modify a sentence, after considering if “extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction,” the reduction is consistent with policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

This analysis proceeds in two steps. At the first step the defendant must identify an extraordinary and compelling reason warranting a sentence reduction. If the defendant establishes such a reason, the district court, in the discretion conferred by the statute. The defendant’s rehabilitation is not, by itself, an extraordinary and compelling reason


For four years, Mr. Thomas was engaged in mail fraud schemes against insurance companies. As part of those schemes, he and an associate caused seven fires at various dwellings in North Judson, Indiana. After the fires, he filed for and collected insurance payments on four properties that were damaged or destroyed by these fires.

Of the seven fires, two of them were at vacant properties, set to deflect suspicion from Mr. Thomas’s insurance fraud. By setting fires to residences, Mr. Thomas displayed no regard for the welfare and safety of those who lived nearby. While the dwellings he burned may have been unoccupied, his actions put first responders directly in harm’s way and there was no guarantee that the fires would not spread to nearby, occupied homes. The nature of Mr. Thomas’s criminal conduct, the need to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense, as well as the importance of deterring insurance fraud – among other factors – outweigh any mitigating circumstances in favor of early release.

The court concluded that Mr. Thomas did not establish an extraordinary and compelling reason for modifying his sentence. That Mr. Thomas has a limited ability to do other jobs rather than his preferred one due to his home detention status does not convert his situation into an extraordinary one. There’s no compelling reason to modify his sentence.

Therefore, Mr. Thomas’ motion for compassionate release or reduction in sentence was denied.


A professional pilot acted as a serial arsonist and insurance fraudster. He was convicted of the violent and dangerous crime of arson for profit and served time. He was lucky and allowed to serve the remainder of  his sentence at home and then, with unmitigated gall, complained that the home confinement prevented him from making more money as a pilot and asked for his sentence to be reduced. The Court had no empathy and required him to fulfill his entire sentence.

(c) 2024 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

Please tell your friends and colleagues about this blog and the videos and let them subscribe to the blog and the videos.

Subscribe to my substack at

Go to X @bzalma; Go to; Go to Barry Zalma videos at at; Go to Barry Zalma on YouTube-

Go to the Insurance Claims Library –

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.