Homeowners insurance fraud case of exploded home leads to sentencing

homeowners insurance fraud

The woman who blew up her house to scam her insurer has received her sentence from an Indiana judge.

A woman who blew up her house in a dramatic case of homeowners insurance fraud has been sentenced to 50 years in prison. The explosion killed two of the woman’s neighbors and destroyed a part of an Indianapolis subdivision in November 2012.

Monserrate Shirley pleaded guilty and will be facing the maximum number of years in prison for her crimes.

In early 2015, the 51 year old woman pleaded guilty to two counts of felony for conspiring to commit arson in her home. She also testified against her former boyfriend, Mark Leonard, with whom she’d been living at the time of the explosion. Furthermore, she testified against her brother for being a part of the homeowners insurance fraud scheme. The goal was to destroy Shirley’s home in order to collect a $300,000 insurance payout.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle sentenced Shirley to 50 years in jail for the homeowners insurance fraud.

homeowners insurance fraudThe 50 year sentence was the maximum possible amount of time Shirley could be sent to prison. At the time of the writing of this article, Shirley’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

That said, Terry Curry, Marion County Prosecutor, said he felt the sentence was appropriate. He called the insurance fraud scheme a “senseless conspiracy” and respected the judge’s ruling. He acknowledged that Shirley had pleaded guilty, accepting responsibility for her crime. She also assisted in the proceedings of the case by offering evidence throughout the investigation. However, Curry also underscored that Shirley had failed to think about the highly dangerous outcomes of her insurance fraud scheme. This led to deaths and a massive amount of property damage outside her own home.

In a statement, Curry said “No one involved in this investigation or prosecution will forget the stories of this tragedy and the continuing fear and trauma that it caused to the survivors.”

The prosecutors said that Leonard was the actual creator of the homeowners insurance fraud scheme. He poured gasoline over two bedrooms and removed natural gas safety valves, filling the home with gas on top of the gasoline. Leonard then set the microwave to create a spark. Both Leonard and Shirley were out of town at a casino, gambling, when the house exploded. It killed 2 people and damaged or destroyed 80 nearby homes.

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