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Florida CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater Announces Sentencing of Lee County Man Charged with Arson and Insurance Fraud

9/12/2012

Contact: Alexis Lambert or
Deborah Jamison (850) 413-2842
  
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced the sentencing of Elbert Luis Mesa Diaz of Lee County after a joint investigation involving the State Fire Marshal Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) and Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation Special Investigations Unit. The investigation revealed that Diaz intentionally set fire to a residence and later submitted a fire loss insurance claim for more than $200,000. 
 
“When someone commits arson and insurance fraud, they are endangering innocent lives and stealing directly from the pockets of hard-working, honest Floridians,” CFO Atwater said. “I am proud of the top-notch investigative work done by my team and those at Citizens to crack down on fraud and hold Diaz accountable for his actions.”
 
On May 17, 2010, the Lehigh Acres Fire Department (LAFD) and the Lee County Sheriff's Office responded to a fire on Graystone Avenue in Lehigh Acres. LAFD requested the assistance of BFAI to determine the cause of the fire.  On May 9, 2011, Diaz was arrested and booked into the Monroe County Jail on charges of Arson, Burning to Defraud and Filing a Fraudulent Insurance Claim.  On September 10, 2012, Diaz was convicted of all charges and sentenced to 26 months in prison to be followed by six years of probation.
 
To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766) or visit http://www.fightarson.com/report_arson.htm.  A reward of up to $5,000 may be paid by the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention for a tip that leads directly to an arrest and conviction.
   
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.