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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357

Frostburg Man Convicted of Reckless Endangerment

BALTIMORE, MD ( September 9, 2009) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Bruce Opel, 51, of Frostburg pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment after setting fire to property he owned and attempting to collect on the insurance policy. Opel claimed the fire was accidental and sued his insurance company for denying the claim. Allegany County Circuit Court Judge Gary G. Leasure sentenced Opel to five years in jail, all suspended, two years probation, and ordered him to pay $4,786 in restitution to the responding volunteer fire departments and 40 hours of community service.

The investigation revealed that on April 15, 2008, there was a fire at a vacant dwelling owned by Opel on Hoffman Hollow in Eckhart, Maryland. The structure had been condemned by Allegany County and was to be razed. Deputy Fire Marshal Ryan Chapman and other experts concluded that the fire was deliberately set. Additionally, a neighbor had seen Opel at the property shortly before the fire ignited on the morning of April 15th.

The conviction follows a joint investigation by the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Office of the Attorney General. In making today’s announcement, Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Benjamin A. Harris for his work on the case.


Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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