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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


Quarters Gameroom
Evans City, Pennsylvania
December 27, 1993


A. IN: 63462-94-0048 W

B. CASE AGENT: Jason P. Wick

C. FIELD DIVISION/OFFICE: Pittsburgh II

D. PHONE: 412-395-6911

E. PROSECUTOR:

Shaun E. Sweeney
Assistant United States Attorney

F. SYNOPSIS:

On December 27, 1993, an arson fire destroyed the Quarters Gameroom at 128 South Washington Street, Evans City, Pennsylvania. The fire was originally investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, who performed the origin and cause investigation, classified the fire as an arson, and left further investigation in the hands of local authorities. Subsequent investigation by ATF revealed that Robert Frydrych, the owner of the business, was responsible for setting the fire for the purpose of defrauding the Erie Insurance Company.

G. CHARGES:

United States Code

Title 18, Section 844(i), Chapter 40, Arson
Title 18, Section 1341, Chapter 63, Mail Fraud

H. EVIDENCE:

1. In February 1990, Robert Frydrych met Diana Sovyak of 106 Lexington Drive, Cranberry, Pennsylvania. They began residing together in December 1990.

2. On April 5, 1991, Frydrych and Sovyak began a business known as Quarters Gameroom, a video arcade and pool playing establishment on North Main Street, Evans City, Pennsylvania. On May 1, 1992, they moved the business to 128 South Washington Street, Evans City, Pennsylvania.

3. Immediately following the move, Quarters Gameroom began to experience financial difficulty.

4. Between May 1992 and May 1993, Frydrych and Sovyak engaged in multiple conversations regarding their failing business and stated that the best situation would be for the business to burn down.

5. Between May 1992 and May 1993, Frydrych engaged in conversation with Jason Voynick, 7971 Franklin Road, Evans City, Pennsylvania, on approximately twenty occasions, during which Frydrych said that he should burn the business down.

6. In November 1992, Frydrych informed Soyvak, his partner/accountant, that she should begin to search for another source of employment.

7. On May 5, 1993, Frydrych telephoned David Martin, 27 Harriet Avenue, Oil City, Pennsylvania, and attempted to sell arcade equipment to him.

8. During the summer of 1993, Frydrych closed Quarters Gameroom but would open it for business on rare occasions.

9. Between June and December 1993, Frydrych had multiple conversations with various witnesses in which he stated he wished the structure would burn so he could collect insurance proceeds and terminate the business.

10. In June 1993, Frydrych contacted Gary Stoken of Revenco Corporation, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Frydrych advised Stoken that he was getting out of business and wished to know whether Stoken would be interested in purchasing arcade equipment. On June 30, 1993, Frydrych sold several pieces of arcade equipment, one pinball machine, and eight video games to Stoken (Revenco Corporation) for a price of $6,500.

11. On June 16, the natural gas service was terminated, and a notice of termination was posted at Quarters Gameroom.

12. On July 1, 1993, Frydrych deposited $6,500 he had received from Revenco Corporation into his Mars National Bank account.

13. On August 13, 1993, Frydrych received a $3,000 check from his mother, Lillie Frydrych, in an attempt to revitalize Frydrych's poor financial condition.

14. In September 1993, Frydrych and Sovyak spoke at Quarters Gameroom, and Frydrych stated that the business would "burn" soon.

15. On September 17, 1993, Frydrych, for an undetermined reason, was still receiving natural gas service at Quarters Gameroom; Norrie Freudenrich again attempted to gain access but could not because the business was closed. On October 30, another Peoples Natural Gas Company employee, Edward Sabish, attempted to gain entry to examine the interior gas meter but could not because the business was closed.

16. On November 8, 1993, Sabish gained access to the structure, performed a meter reading, made certain that service was terminated at the curb valve, and made arrangements for the meter to be extracted.

17. During the final week of November 1993, Frydrych removed newer video games from Quarters Gameroom and replaced them with outdated games.

18. On December 10, Frydrych received a $4,000 check from his mother in an attempt to revitalize his poor financial condition.

19. On December 13, Frydrych failed to appear at Quarters Gameroom for a scheduled gas meter extraction, but did leave a note for Sabish that he would be available on December 21 to execute the removal of the meter.

20. On December 17, Frydrych renewed Erie Insurance Group insurance policy number Q48-1750155P, with coverage consisting of $110,000 for contents and $78,000 business interruption coverage.

21. On December 22, Frydrych again failed to appear at Quarters Gameroom to meet with Freudenrich for the meter extraction. As a result, Cranberry Lock, Safe and Doors, Inc., 7574 Franklin Road, Evans City, Pennsylvania, responded to the business with owner Patrick Boylan, removed the lock from the front door, replaced the lock, and provided four new keys to Boylan. In addition, Peoples Natural Gas Company finally extracted the gas meter and terminated natural gas service.

22. On December 23, Frydrych received one key from Harris to the front door of Quarters Gameroom.

23. On December 23 or 24, 1993, Frydrych transported two metal boxes containing his fishing equipment from Quarters Gameroom to Patricia Osche's residence.

24. On December 24, Frydrych provided Boylan a $700 check for back rent; the check was rejected by Fidelity Bank due to insufficient funds.

25. On December 27, 1993, at approximately 11:36 p.m., Frydrych caused an arson fire that destroyed Quarters Gameroom, a structure that affected interstate commerce. The subsequent origin and cause investigation revealed that an accelerant--possibly kerosene--had been poured in a back room and set on fire. The structure was secure upon the arrival of firefighting personnel.

26. On December 28, Frydrych received a $1,500 check from his mother in an attempt to assist him with his poor financial condition.

27. On December 28, Frydrych issued Mars National Bank check number 308, in the amount of $675, to Peoples Natural Gas Company for the purpose of attempting to reinitiate service at Quarters Gameroom.

28. On January 10, Frydrych received, through the United States Postal Service, a $4,000 check from the Erie Insurance Group relative to the fire loss at Quarters Gameroom.

29. On January 24, Frydrych received, through the United States Postal Service, a $2,000 check from the Erie Insurance Group relative to the fire loss at Quarters Gameroom.

I. LEGAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS:

The origin and cause investigation was performed by the Pennsylvania State Police. Origin and cause investigators had to return on several occasions due to inclement weather, which raised the issue of whether investigators forfeited their right to be on-scene without a consent search or search warrant. A motion by defense attorneys to suppress the origin and cause determination was denied.

J. VERDICT AND SENTENCING:

On August 15, 1996, a jury found Robert Frydrych guilty of violating Federal arson and mail fraud statutes.

On December 17, 1996, Federal Judge Robert Cindrich sentenced Frydrych to 3 years' incarceration in a Federal prison.

 
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