Lawyer leaves courthouse after arson fraud indictments
A federal jury on Monday found Sacramento store owner Saber A. Shehadeh guilty of three counts of mail fraud in connection to a high-profile serial-arson scheme.
Shehadeh, 75, became the last of three men convicted for their roles in an arson-for-profit case that saw seven local buildings burn between 2009 and 2013.
According to court proceedings, Shehadeh owned property at the corner 10th and E streets in Sacramento's Alkali Flats neighborhood. Two fires — one in December 2009 and one in April 2010 — ultimately destroyed the historic building where he ran a business called Tru Value Market.
Prosecutors said Shehadeh lied to State Farm Insurance Company following the fires, and, along with co-defendants Jamal Shehadeh and Brian Stone, profited from a "supposed construction company" that submitted fraudulent invoices for clean-up costs.
Saber Shehadeh received more than $1.4 million in insurance proceeds, money he shared with family members including Jamal Shehadeh, prosecutors said.
Shehadeh's conviction represents the end of a long and complicated multi-agency investigation. The case initially was thought to have national security implications, and a judge in 2016 allowed the U.S. government to withhold some aspects of evidence from defense lawyers.
Jamal Shehadeh in February pleaded guilty to two counts of arson to commit a felony and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to his plea, he set or caused to be set the first fire at Saber Shehadeh's Alkali Flats property.
In April, Jamal Shehadeh claimed he had been threatened by prosecutors and bullied into pleading guilty. He has asked U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to set aside his sentence.
Stone, a disbarred California attorney and father of French train hero Spencer Stone, was convicted in April of 13 counts of mail and wire fraud in a separate jury trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12.
Each count of Saber Shehadeh's conviction carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Shehadeh, currently in custody, is set to be sentenced on Sept. 6.