TWINSBURG — A Gettysburg Drive man is facing felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with allegations that he set fire to the home he was living in this past February and then filed fraudulent insurance claims.
According to Stow Municipal Court records, 33-year-old Andrew J. Aleck entered felony no pleas to third-degree felony insurance fraud and fourth-degree felony arson and pleaded not guilty to first-degree misdemeanor insurance fraud at his arraignment Thursday, the day the charges were filed.
In a comment emailed to the Twinsburg Bulletin on Friday, Aleck’s attorney Mitchell J Yelsky said his client is maintaining his innocence.
"We believe the evidence will show this to be an accidental fire, not a criminal act," said Yelsky.
Assistant Police Chief Bob Gonsiewski and Assistant Fire Chief Steve Bosso said Friday that they were unable to provide details about the arson investigation, but they said it was extensive and involved police detectives and patrol officers and fire and insurance company investigators.
"I can tell you," said Gonsiewski, "[Aleck] was living in the basement of his grandparents’ home at 9309 Gettysburg. He had taken out a renter’s insurance policy the day before the fire for $120,000 and that’s where the fraud comes in. He is being charged with arson, setting the fire, as well."
Bosso said the fire department’s two investigators were at the scene for hours after the fire gathering evidence, which was turned over to the police and insurance investigators.
"We did an eighth of the work and then the police and insurance investigators did the seven-eighths," he said. The Twinsburg, Macedonia and Oakwood fire departments and Hudson EMS responded to the home after the fire was reported at 2:26 p.m. on Feb. 17. There were no reported injuries.
Bosso said at the time that no one was at home at the time of the fire and it was brought under control within about 30 minutes. The fire’s origin was in the area of a fireplace in the lower level of the split-level home, said Bosso.
The heaviest damage, said Bosso, was around the fireplace and the room it is in sustained major damage. There was also likely smoke, heat and water damage in other parts of the home and to belongings as well. The structure was not habitable and was boarded up with the electricity and gas shut off.
Bosso said the damage was estimated at $70,000.
According to complaints police filed with the court, the felony fraud charge is in connection with a claim made with Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and the misdemeanor charge is in connection with a claim of less than $1,000 with the Lemonade Insurance Co.
Aleck was released on a personal bond from Solon City Jail on Thursday. A preliminary hearing before Judge Kim R. Hoover is scheduled for May 28 at 10 a.m.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.