February 27, 2013

Man found guilty of arson gets prison time


---- — PLATTSBURGH — A man who set fire to his home and tried to collect insurance money was sentenced to time in state prison.

Judge Patrick McGill recently gave Travis J. Howard, 34, to three to nine years in state prison, according to the Clinton County Court Clerk’s Office.

In October 2012, a jury found Howard guilty of two felonies: third-degree arson and second-degree insurance fraud.

At the time of the sentencing, he resided in Swanzey, N.H., but he is originally from Beekmantown, according to his estranged wife, Joy Howard.

Travis pleaded not guilty to any involvement in the March 3, 2010, arson of his family’s West Chazy home, located at 384 Jersey Swamp Road.

After the home was deemed a total loss, he filed a $50,000 insurance claim with All State but never received the money as a result of an investigation by Plattsburgh-based State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Detective Larry Cragle.

Analysis of the fire presented in court showed the blaze to be not accidental and of human origin.

Assistant District Attorney Nick Evanovich told the Press-Republican in October that even though Travis was denied insurance money, New York state charges still hold since he knowingly submitted a false claim.

Evanovich said Travis told five people, including Joy and family friends, that he was toying with the idea of setting fire to the home to collect insurance money before moving to Colorado.

At Evanovich’s recommendation, Travis was held in Clinton County Jail until his sentencing since he had previously tried to leave the state.

“I am so happy to close this chapter of our lives,” Joy said in an email.

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