A husband and wife were each sentenced Thursday in Sacramento federal court to 15 years in prison after being found guilty by a jury in September of burning their Antelope house down to collect the insurance.
The jury found Alexander Sakhanskiy, 43, and Larisa Sakhanskiy, 45, guilty of arson to commit fraud, two counts of fraud, and arson affecting interstate commerce.
According to evidence presented at the trial by prosecutors, in the hours before dawn on May 22, 2010, a gasoline-fueled fire destroyed the single-family house at 5745 Hawkeye Lane. The arsonist has never been identified, but the prosecutors’ evidence convinced the jury that the couple hatched the plot and recruited someone to light the fire.
Court papers filed by the government reflect that the ill-conceived and clumsily-implemented scheme began to unravel from the time fire Battalion Chief Chris Holbrook arrived at the scene just after 1:30 a.m.
He “observed a noticeable lack of contents in the house,” according to the government’s trial brief. “For example he saw closets that were virtually empty and the house was sparsely furnished.”
Searches uncovered a large trailer on the same property “filled to the brim with personal items, including clothing, family photos, and medication,” the brief says. “A shed and a car on the property were filled with tools and other personal items one might expect to find in a home or garage. When Larissa Sakhanskiy’s minivan was searched after she returned” from her night-shift job, “agents found the prior year’s tax records, the children’s handmade Christmas cards, and other items traditionally kept inside the home.”
Things went steadily downhill for the couple after that. The insurance company forked over nearly $540,000 on the their claim, but even that turned into a sizeable problem at Thursday’s sentencing when U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered them to pay it back.
Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189