Sacramento, California - U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. sentenced Saber A. Shehadeh, 76, of Sacramento, to four years and nine months in prison for an arson fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
On June 14, 2018, a jury found Shehadeh guilty of three counts of mail fraud. According to evidence presented at trial, Saber Shehadeh made a series of false statements to State Farm Insurance Company to get insurance money after two fires destroyed buildings he owned at the corner of 10th and E Streets in Sacramento’s Alkali Flat neighborhood. The fires occurred on December 27, 2009, and August 15, 2010, and ultimately destroyed a historical building where Saber Shehadeh ran a business called Tru Value Market. Prior to the fires, the financial condition of Shehadeh’s Tru Value Market had declined. He experienced suspension from USDA’s food stamp program, bounced mortgage checks, and frequent overdrafts on his business bank account, and his alcohol license was placed in jeopardy due to a conviction for food stamp fraud and receiving stolen property.
After the second fire, Saber Shehadeh became a silent partner in a supposed construction company that was then used to submit inflated invoices for post-fire cleanup to State Farm. During State Farm’s investigation of the insurance claims, Saber Shehadeh made a series of false statements about the status of his market prior to the fires, and submitted fraudulent documents and made false statements about the debris removal performed after the second fire. Saber Shehadeh received over $1.4 million in insurance proceeds after the fires, enabling him to pay off his mortgage and still have several hundred thousand dollars left over to invest in new businesses and to share with family members, including his co-defendant Jamal Shehadeh.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sacramento Fire Department; the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department; and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Christopher S. Hales prosecuted the case.
On February 10, 2018, Jamal Shehadeh pleaded guilty to two counts of arson to commit a felony and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to his plea agreement, Jamal Shehadeh set or caused to be set the first fire at Saber Shehadeh’s 10th and E Street property. On April 17, 2018, co-defendant, Brian Stone, was convicted of 13 counts of mail and wire fraud after a separate jury trial, and on September 27, 2018, he was sentenced to six years in prison.