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Cape Coral Homeowner Faces Arson Charge

2/1/2007

CONTACT:   Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE—A Cape Coral man is facing felony charges stemming from the suspicion that he set his home on fire. The arrest, following an investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation, found the man had already cashed a $5,000 advance check from his homeowners insurance policy at the time of the arrest.
 
"Arson is more than a financial crime, it is a violent crime that kills and injures innocent citizens and firefighters every year," said State Fire Marshal Alex Sink, who also is Florida's chief financial officer.  "We will take action against anyone we believe may have committed such a crime."
 
Homeowner Carlos R Veloz-Lao told arson detectives that on December 9, 2006, he was alone and cooking at his NE 20th Court home when a friend dropped by and he went out to talk for about 30 minutes.  It was after that, he told detectives, that he saw the house on fire. Veloz-Lao could only provide the first name of the friend and said he had no contact information.
 
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation was called by the Cape Coral Fire Department to determine the origin and cause of the fire.   The investigation involved on-scene investigation and forensic testing that revealed the fire had been set.
 
Veloz-Lao is charged with first-degree arson, burning to defraud and grand theft. He filed his claim with American Strategic Insurance Corp.  If convicted on all of the charges, Veloz-Lao could be sentenced up to 40 years in prison.
 
The State Fire Marshal's Office last year distributed a video to fire, police and sheriff's departments throughout Florida to help detectives better investigate suspected kitchen fires.
 
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.  Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.