VA Man Wanted for Arson Turns Up in CanadaInsurance Fraud — By Trace America on July 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM
A Virginia businessman probably spent the last 3 years believing he got away scot-free on arson, fraud and conspiracy charges. He just turned up in Canada however, so he now finds himself fighting extradition and remains free on bond just outside Toronto.
According to firehouse.com, Jay Aneja was named in 12 counts of a federal indictment for a fire that gutted his family’s furniture outlet back in 2008.
Aneja, 50, is charged with paying for and plotting the fire, which caused several hundred thousand dollars in damage to Weekend Sofa Outlet and some of its neighboring businesses.
Aneja isn’t the only one involved however; three other men either have already served or are now serving time in the case.
When he vanished, Aneja was facing 15 years in prison and a $2 million fine.
Both his wife, Shama Aneja, and the woman prosecuting the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Waering, said they believed Jay Aneja might have gone to New Delhi.
According to Leo Adler, Aneja’s defense attorney in Canada, he was taken into custody in June of 2011 about an hour outside of Toronto. He was charged with arson, attempted fraud, possession of a firearm and obstruction of justice. An extradition judge did rule that the obstruction charge should not proceed.
According to Sandra Theroulde, the deputy registrar for the Court of Appeals for Toronto, Aneja appealed his extradition on the 11th and was granted bail two days later. Adler noted that an appeal date has not been set.
Before fleeing to Canada, Aneja was a familiar face in downtown Roanoke, where he operated both the 7-to-7 Grocery and the Gold and Gift Shoppe. He was also the vice president of Weekend Sofa Outlet, his family’s business, when it burned on August 3, 2008. The fire caused around 35 firefighters to fight for about an hour to contain the blaze, which ended up costing about $407,000 in damage to the building and its insurer. Nearby businesses also required about $300,000 in repairs. Aneja submitted a $137,000 insurance claim.
Federal investigators later maintained that Aneja offered Michael Antwan Lee about $3,000 to set the fire and claimed Lee then hired two other Roanoke men, Jason Ronald Varona and Sidney Montre Terry, to help him.
A year after the fire, Varona and Terry pleaded guilty to the charges against them and received sentences of seven and 20 months, respectively. The following month, Lee entered a guilty plea for one count each of maliciously using fire to damage a building and to being a felon in possession of a gun.
Aneja is charged with multiple offenses, including several counts of mail and wire fraud, falsely representing himself as a U.S. citizen when interviewed by investigators –due to the fact that he only holds Canadian citizenship, and giving a gun to Lee, who has a felony record.
This post is authored by Trace America.