Groves man guilty of arson, insurance fraud

Groves man guilty of arson, insurance fraud

A 51-year-old Groves man was found guilty of charges related to an arson and insurance fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, reports information from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Patrick Wayne Bronnon was found guilty of 40 charges including conspiracy to commit mail fraud and use of a fire in commission of a felony on Oct. 21 by a federal jury following an eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. The jury deliberated for about 75 minutes before returning with a guilty verdict.

According to information presented in court, beginning in 2011, Bronnon, and others, began executing a scheme to defraud various insurance companies through fraudulent claims on homes and vehicles. The scheme involved identifying low value property and purchasing it through a co-defendant straw purchaser. Within a few weeks of a down payment being made, Bronnon or a fellow associate would intentionally damage the home, typically by fire or water, in order to collect insurance proceeds. 

In total, nine fraudulent fir eclaims, three fraudulent water damage claims and two fraudulent theft claims were filed with various insurance companies on nine different addresses, totaling about $1.7 million in fraudulent payments. The properties were located in Port Arthur, Port Neches, Beaumont and Sugarland. 

"This was a scheme motivated by greed," said U.S. Attorney Joe Brown. "It cost insurance companies certainly, but it also endangered people - emergency personnel, neighbors and others. And these frauds contribute to higher insurance costs for all of us. We take these things very seriously."

Under the federal statute, Bronnon faces up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing for the conspiracy and mail fraud counts and up to 70 years for the use of fire in commission of a felony violations. The sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.