Property owner, tenants arrested for arson scheme
LAFOURCHE PARISH - After a year-long investigation, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office and the State Fire Marshal's Office have arrested three people in connection with an insurance scam involving arson.
On June 1, 2017, the State Fire Marshal's Office was called to assist in determining the cause of a structure fire in Houma. Investigators were told there was one occupant who left a curling iron plugged in and unattended. When they returned to the home, they noticed smoke and fire coming from the back.
Three months later, investigators received information from two other tenants who lived in the burned home. They said that the owner of the house, Lonnie Cavaness, who was also their employer, was behind setting the fire in collaboration with the third tenants, Amber Miller. The two said Miller told them she set the fire in exchange for payment from Cavaness.
Miller was arrested for simple arson in October. After her arrest, she claimed her neighbor, Kyle Dupre, who is also her cousin, actually set the fire. Additional witnesses say Dupre admitted to being part of the scam. In February 2018, Dupre was arrested for simple arson but denied any involvement until May 30, 2018.
On that day, Dupre said Cavaness came up with the plan to burn the house down in order to evict the other two tenants and collect the insurance money. Dupre said he offered to do it for $1,000 and admitted to setting a fire on the stove. He later re-entered the home and moved smoldering material to the back room where he piled clothes on top and lit a shirt on fire.
Dupre also admitted to setting fire to the house he was staying in next door, also owned by Cavaness for another $1,000.
Cavaness has received $85,377 in insurance money for the first fire and $84,300 for the second. Cavaness was arrested on June 14, 2018 for arson with the intent to defraud.
The State Fire Marshal's Office says additional charges are expected for Dupree and Cavaness.
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