Arson Case Briefs
provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
for more information on this Brief, contact:
ATF, Arson and Explosive Programs Division - (202) 927-7930
Pacaccio's Hair Salon
February 5, 1996
A. IN: 53220-96-0015 E
B. CASE AGENT: Sharon K. Wheeler
C. FIELD DIVISION/OFFICE: Dallas/Group II Arson Task Force
D. PHONE: 214-767-0530
Assistant U.S. Attorneys
Northern Judicial District of Texas
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on February 5, 1996, an arson fire occurred
at Pacaccio's Hair Salon in Arlington, Texas. This salon was centrally located
in a strip shopping center that housed, among other things, an exotic (nude)
gentlemen's tanning salon and a bar. The fire caused approximately $50,000
in damages to the salon and over $200,000 in damages to the building and
other adjoining businesses. Investigation revealed that the owner of the
salon, Charles Nathaniel Thomas, had paid a coconspirator, Hardy Gene Parker,
$1,000 to set the salon on fire for insurance profits of $70,000 for contents
coverage. Parker, in turn, paid coconspirator John Irvin Jenkins $500 to
actually set the fire. After the fire, Thomas filed proof of loss statements
to Ohio Insurance Company to claim the insurance profits.
United States Code
Title 18, Section 844(i), Maliciously Damaging by Means of a Fire a Building
Involved in Interstate Commerce.
Title 18, Section 844(h), Use of Fire to Commit a Felony
Title 18, Section 371, Conspiracy
Title 18, Section 1341, Mail Fraud (two counts)
1. The owner, Charles Nathanial Thomas, let insurance on all personal
and other business assets lapse with the exception of the hair salon. He
paid the premium in full 3 weeks prior to the fire.
2. Thomas and his wife arrived at the fire scene within 15 minutes of
notification of the fire and appeared to be wide awake and clear headed
at 3:00 a.m. They lived approximately 18 miles from the fire site. The wife
was in full makeup, although they later told fire investigators that they
were asleep when notified about the fire.
3. The fire scene investigation revealed that the fire had been intentionally
set. There were five separate points of origin, all set with gasoline. The
insurance policy for the salon was laying alone on the office desk top,
as though someone had been reviewing it.
4. Interviews with employees and associates of the owner revealed that
the salon had been experiencing financial difficulties. Thomas was 1 month
behind on his mortgage at the time and had received an eviction notice.
5. Thomas owed vast sums of money to sports bookies in the Dallas area.
He had offered the salon to one bookie just prior to the fire as payment
for his debts. That bookie refused the offer and requested that Thomas find
some way to pay his gambling debts. He had invested approximately $90,000
to build the salon but in desperation was willing to sell it for $16,000.
Thomas also owed Harrah's casino $10,000 and a business associate $11,000.
He was on bond at the time of the fire for violating Texas organized crime
statutes for keeping a gambling establishment.
6. Thomas was living well above his means. In 1995, he purchased a new
home, a new pickup truck, a new Corvette, two four-wheelers, and a trailer.
Thomas showed that he made only $17,000 in personal income that year.
7. Interviews revealed that prior to the fire, Thomas had made many comments
in reference to burning down the salon.
8. Thomas' right-hand man came forward after several intensive interviews
and stated that after the fire he had paid Hardy Parker for burning the
business for Charles Thomas. That right-hand man was given full immunity
in return for his cooperation.
9. Hardy Parker admitted to his involvement in the conspiracy and gave
information leading to John Jenkins. Parker later wore a wire while paying
Jenkins additional money as payment for the fire. This payment was videotaped
by ATF and used as evidence during trial. Upon arrest, Jenkins gave a full
statement detailing his involvement.
I. LEGAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS:
Thomas was involved in so many illegal activities that much of it was
kept out of trial due to the judge's opinion that it was too prejudicial.
Thomas had made an extensive number of insurance claims that were found
to be suspect. Only one of these claims was allowed in court, under evidence
J. VERDICT AND SENTENCING:
After a 6-day jury trial, Charles Nathanial Thomas was found guilty on
all five counts. On April 3, 1997, he was sentenced to 105 months in prison,
36 months' supervised release, and was ordered to make restitution of $178,000.
Hardy Parker pled guilty to one conspiracy count and was sentenced February
4, 1997, to 18 months imprisonment followed by 36 months' supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay $178,000 restitution.
John Irvin Jenkins pled guilty to arson and conspiracy and was sentenced
March 27, 1997, to 30 months' imprisonment and 36 months' supervised release.
Due to ill health, Jenkins was not required to pay restitution.