Man Who Set Fire to Own Property Hears His Fate

Denis Molla, who initially blamed antifa for arson, gets 30 months in prison after Minnesota blaze
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2022 11:40 AM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2023 7:07 AM CDT
UPDATE Jun 9, 2023 7:07 AM CDT

A Minnesota man was sentenced Thursday to 30 months behind bars after setting fire to his own property to claim insurance money, and initially blaming the September 2020 arson on antifa. Per court documents cited by CBS News, Denis Vladmirovich Molla, 29, who'd first claimed that someone had torched his camper "because it had a Trump 2020 flag displayed on it," pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud regarding the Brooklyn Center blaze that destroyed not only his camper, but also his garage, two vehicles, and some of the siding on his home, per MPR News. Molla ended up collecting $61,000 in insurance money, and also took in another $22,000 from two GoFundMe fundraisers. In addition to his jail time, Molla has been ordered to pay $3,850 in restitution and an $18,000 fine. His attorney says he has already paid back more than $83,000 to the insurance firm and GoFundMe donors.

Oct 14, 2022 11:40 AM CDT

When Denis Molla called the cops after a fire ripped through his garage, camper, and other vehicles in September 2020, it seemed to be the work of left-leaning arsonists. Graffiti left on the garage included references to Black Lives Matter, antifa, and the Biden 2020 campaign, and Molla told CBS News at the time that he suspected someone had attacked his Brooklyn Center, Minn., property because he had large Trump flags flying from his camper and truck. Molla also claimed he saw three unknown people running away from his home around the time of the fire. Then the twist: On Tuesday the Department of Justice announced Molla was indicted by a federal grand jury in July and has since admitted to setting the fire himself to collect the insurance money, reports CNN.

After the fire, Molla and his wife elicited much public sympathy as news reports detailed how they'd had to yank their toddler and infant out of their home, as well as rescue puppies from the burning garage, per NBC News. "This is over and beyond terrible," Molla said at the time. In a release, the DOJ cites court documents that note the 30-year-old filed several insurance claims to cover the damage done by the fire, including to his garage, camper, vehicles, and home. Some of those claims—$300,000 in total—were denied, but Molla still received $61,000, the DOJ notes, adding that GoFundMe accounts started by himself and others brought in another $17,000.

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But "in reality, Molla started his own property on fire and spray painted the graffiti on his own garage," the DOJ notes in the release. He pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to one count of wire fraud and will be sentenced at a later date. NBC notes he'll likely get between three to four years behind bars, though a judge could give him a shorter sentence. His lawyer says Molla has paid back all of the insurance money he collected and has saved up enough cash to pay back the GoFundMe donors "as soon as the court facilitates that," per the news outlet. "Mr. Molla is a wonderful husband and father who made a mistake that he sincerely regrets," attorney Ryan Garry says in a statement to CNN. "Unlike many others, he has accepted full responsibility for his actions and is sorry for what happened." (More antifa stories.)

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