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Michigan arsonist gets 137 years for role in fraud ring

May 08, 2013, Detroit, MI — Ali Darwich was first arrested in 2008 after being spotted running from a burning Detroit building.

Four years later, in December 2012, a jury convicted him of being part of an arson ring that defrauded insurance companies of over $5 million.

And today, a federal judge sentenced Darwich, 31, of Beverly Hills, to 137 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Darwich and eight others were charged with buying insurance on numerous houses, businesses and vehicles, then setting them ablaze, vandalizing them or causing floods in order to collect money for repairs, replacements, loss of profit and other costs of the damage.

He was accused of burning Warrendale Hardware on West Warren Avenue in Detroit in a fire that caused over $500,000 in damage.

Darwich was arrested after being seen entering a Cheyenne Street building in Detroit in December 2008 with a bottle of liquid, then running off as the structure burned.

He was also accused of shifting the ownership of various properties among family and friends in order conceal the operation.

In all, seven insurance companies were defrauded of over $5 million, according to federal officials.

Eight other suspects in the arson ring pleaded guilty and have each been sentenced: Fatima Toufaili, 29, of Beverly Hills; Ashak Ashaq, 43, of Warren; Mazen Mazraani, 32, of Dearborn; Ali Alaouie, 34, of Dearborn; Benjamin Youhanna, 40, of Farmington Hills; Fayez Debouk, 26, of Dearborn; Rabhi Ali, 29, of Dearborn; Jad Alawie, 38 of Dearborn.

Various federal agencies took part in the investigation, including the FBI and the IRS, with help from the Dearborn police and Detroit fire departments.

"Today’s sentencing sends a crystal clear message that federal law enforcement will continue to aggressively target and take down criminal groups responsible for perpetuating crime and blight in metro Detroit," said William Hayes, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations.

Source: MLive.com

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