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Port Arthur man guilty in fire fraud scheme

Special to The News

BEAUMONT – A 50-year-old Port Arthur man has pleaded guilty to charges related to an insurance fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown announced late Monday.

Patrick Wayne Bronnon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and use of a fire in commission of a felony before U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

According to information presented in court, beginning in 2011, Bronnon, and others, began executing a scheme to defraud various insurance companies through fraudulent claims on homes and vehicles. The scheme involved identifying a low-value property and purchasing it through a co-defendant straw purchaser.

Within a few weeks of a down payment being made, Bronnon or an associate would intentionally damage the home, typically by fire or water, in order to collect insurance proceeds. In total, nine fraudulent fire claims, three fraudulent water damage claims, and two fraudulent theft claims were filed with various insurance companies on nine different addresses, totaling about $1.7 million in fraudulent payments. The properties were located in Port Arthur, Port Neches, Beaumont, and Sugarland.

As part of his plea, Bronnon has agreed to a sentence of 15 years in federal prison although sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, National Insurance Crime Bureau and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and K.P. Kennedy Gates.