Crime - Sacto 911

Father of French train hero gets 6 years in prison for role in Sacramento arson scheme

Lawyer leaves courthouse after arson fraud indictments

John Manning, attorney for Brian Stone, leaves the Sacramento federal courthouse with Grace Stone, the wife of Brian Stone, on Friday, March 18, 2016. Jamal M. Shehadeh, Brian J. Stone and Saber A. Shehadeh were arraigned and charged in a 60-count
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John Manning, attorney for Brian Stone, leaves the Sacramento federal courthouse with Grace Stone, the wife of Brian Stone, on Friday, March 18, 2016. Jamal M. Shehadeh, Brian J. Stone and Saber A. Shehadeh were arraigned and charged in a 60-count

A disbarred attorney has been sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $250,000 in restitution for more than a dozen counts of fraud related to a Sacramento-area arson scheme, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Brian J. Stone, 60, of Sacramento was convicted in April of 13 counts of wire and mail fraud, which involved fire insurance claims made in the Sacramento area between 2009 and 2013, according to a Justice Department news release.

One of Stone’s co-defendants, Jamal Shehadeh, in June 2013 faced eviction from a supposed auto parts store he rented at 2764 Fulton Avenue, according to the news release. A fire broke out the night of the eviction, and the auto business filed an insurance claim with State Farm using fake invoices made up by a local contractor; the news release said Stone let the contractor keep 10 percent of the State Farm insurance payout and told him to send the other 90 percent to Stone via cashier’s check.

Other insurance claims included a location on Broadway in June 2010 and a location at Marconi Avenue in September 2012, according to the news release. Shehadeh admitted in court to setting or causing fires related to the fraud scheme.

A third defendant and Jamal Shehadeh’s relative, Saber Shehadeh, owned two properties in Sacramento’s Alkali Flats neighborhoods, both of which were destroyed in fires between December 2009 and April 2010.

Prosecutors in the case had said the three defendants collected more than $1.5 million from the scheme.

The contractor reported the Fulton Avenue claim to State Farm, leading to an FBI investigation and a search of Stone’s office and emails, in which documents detailing the fraud scheme were uncovered, the news release said. The FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Sacramento Fire Department, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department all took part in the investigation.

Stone is the father of Spencer Stone, one of three men hailed as heroes for thwarting a terror attack on a train heading to Paris in August 2015. Spencer Stone previously told The Bee that he had not known what his father does “for a long time.”

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Brian Stone was an attorney in California who practiced in Elk Grove until his disbarment in December 2001, the State Bar of California website shows. Admitted to the State Bar in 1988, he was suspended in 1997 and again in 1999 for child and family support noncompliance. In September 2001, he was suspended a third time, for failure to pay Bar membership fees.

Thursday’s news release said Stone was “utilizing his legal skills in the process” of running the fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. sentenced Stone to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $243,000 in restitution and a $12,500 fine, as announced by U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.

Jamal Shehadeh pleaded guilty to arson and admitted to taking part in the fraud scheme during a four-day trial in February, according to the news release. He has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The Bee reported in April that Jamal Shehadeh had renounced his guilty plea, saying he was pressured into taking it.

Saber Shehadeh, 75, was convicted in June of three counts of mail fraud and is set to be sentenced Oct. 18, according to the news release.

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