Former landlord sentenced for burning own buildings

6:08 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
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Gerald Singer

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- A West Michigan man will spend 55 years in prison for setting fire to Muskegon-area properties he owned.

Gerald Singer, 74, was convicted in March on 11 charges including arson and mail fraud, all to collect $700,000 in insurance settlements. Thursday in federal court, the judge ordered for restitution in the amount of $653,140 to insurance companies and the IRS.

Singer set fire to a commercial building in Norton Shores, a rental property in Muskegon, and a Muskegon Heights apartment complex.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles wouldn't say if restitution will also be granted to some of his 34 victims, but says Thursday's sentence sends a message to other arsonists.

"We're not going to tolerate people burning down homes, which is going to raise the insurance costs for everybody, which is going to put first responders, their lives at risk," said Miles.

The judge told Singer he deserved the long sentence because someone could have been injured or died in the fires. He also said Singer was old enough to know better.

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