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Lawsuit: Flint Arson Ring Operated For 2 Decades

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(File photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

(File photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

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FLINT (WWJ/AP) – An insurance company says more than a dozen people operated an arson-for-profit ring in Flint that collected more than $2 million over two decades.

The Flint Journal reports State Farm Insurance says in a lawsuit in Detroit federal court that fires purposely were started at homes owned or rented by members of the group.

The lawsuit claims that Flint-based public adjustment company Allied and Associates and/or Gary Lappin, its president, submitted more than 40 fraudulent claims to insurance companies, including at least 15 to State Farm.

The insurer says insurance claims were filed to receive thousands of dollars in insurance payouts.

No criminal charges have been file against any of those named the case.

The case has sparked counter lawsuits by some of the defendants. Six of those named in the State Farm lawsuit have settled, including Allied and Associates and Lappin.

“I absolutely did nothing wrong,” said Lappin, adding that he feels targeted by the insurance company because he stands up for clients dealing with insurance companies.

Lappin said his competitors have used the lawsuit to scare away potential clients and he foresees a continued loss of income due to the damage done to his reputation.

He called the case “witch hunt.”

“I couldn’t afford to keep fighting,” Lappin said of his decision to settle.

Flint police arson investigator Sgt. David Bigelow told the Flint Journal he was aware of the lawsuit but said no police investigation has been initiated on the allegations.

Bigelow, who is the city’s only full-time arson investigator, has more than 1,000 open arson investigations ongoing right now and said Flint police simply do not have the manpower to launch that deep of an investigation.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who oversees criminal cases in Flint, said his office doesn’t file charges unless the accusations are brought forward in a police complaint.

State Farm isn’t discussing the case.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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