Thea Digiammerino

Homeowner, Contractor Conspired to Burn Down House for Insurance Money: Police

A homeowner and local contractor both face arson and insurance fraud charges after a fire in Putnam in July.

According to the arrest warrant application, firefighter responded to a fire at 105 Cady Road in Putnam around 3:30 p.m. on July 1. On July 1 the temperatures were in the high 90s and several firefighters suffered heat exhaustion. One was even taken to the hospital for treatment.

The homeowner, identified as 73-year-old Robert Lemay, initially told fire investigators that he was grilling hamburgers when his dog ran off into the woods and he abandoned the grill to go after the animal. The house was a total loss and Lemay also reported losing $4,000 in cash in the fire.

Investigators found that the burn patterns were inconsistent with the fire having started by the grill, and the Connecticut State Police Eastern District Major Crimes unit took over the investigation.

According to court documents, in a follow-up interview Lemay admitted that the fire was not caused by a grill, and that the fire was part of a scheme involving a local contractor.

In an interview with police, Lemay told investigators that a contractor named Roger brought him the grill and told him to put a hamburger on it and leave. Lemay said he did, but when he returned the fire had gone out, so he called Roger, who came back over and draped a blanket over the fence. Lemay said he didn’t see Roger light the blanket, but he saw flames come up from the blanket, setting the fence and house on fire.

“I did not want this to happen at all,” the court documents read. “Roger just kept talking about it and showing me picture of houses that he has built.” Lemay went on to tell police that Roger told him to stick with his story or they would both go to jail.

Investigators said that at this stage of the investigation Lemay had been in touch with his insurance company, which had already been billed for an investigation into the fire, travel expenses, as well as Lemay’s accommodations while he was displaced from his home. According to the documents, the initial adjustment was going to be a combined claim of $292,250.

The contractor, who police identified as 51-year-old Armand “Roger” Boisvert, has a criminal history, investigators said.

Lemay was arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to commit arson, interfering with an officer, insurance fraud and reckless endangerment. Boisvert was also arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree arson, tampering with a witness, insurance fraud, and reckless endangerment.

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