A Schaghticoke soldier accused of killing two of his superior officers is in a legal dispute with Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. after the insurer accused him of burning down his Cohoes home in 2002 to collect on a policy whose value had been doubled six weeks before the fire.
On Sunday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the motive for the alleged ``fragging'' in Iraq is unknown. ``I don't know of any of the dynamics behind it. It may come out at trial. We have to wait for all the facts to come out.''
Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez previously told fellow National Guardsmen, ``If I can't sell my house, I might as well burn it down,'' the insurer said in court pleadings obtained by the Times Herald-Record of Middletown.
Martinez, 37, denied any involvement in the fire. Police records show the cause was determined to be accidental. Martinez is suing Liberty Mutual for payment on the policy.
``We believe that the plaintiff, utilizing his knowledge of electrical wiring, has cleverly created the impression that this fire was of electrical origin,'' Liberty Mutual lawyer Thomas O'Connor wrote in court papers in September.
Martinez has an associate degree in electronics.
A guy is suspected of arson, and he gets deployed to Iraq? What was his chain of command thinking? Martinez is a supply NCO. Supply types often have access to arms, ammunition, and explosives. Not exactly the kind of job you want to give to a suspected arsonist.
Somebody screwed up when they decided to deploy this guy. When the whole truth comes out, I have a feeling it won't be pretty. Not that it's pretty now, but it's going to get uglier.
There's more on the Martinez story at the Insurance Journal website.
Court papers reviewed by the newspaper also show that Martinez was five months behind on his mortgage payments and his electric service was being turned off for nonpayment when the fire damaged his home. Neighbors said the family moved out about two weeks before the fire.
The civil lawsuit in the case was scheduled to go to trial in September, though what will become of that given his arrest is unclear, his lawyer in the civil case, Eugene Spada, told the newspaper.
Cohoes Detective Tom Ross told The Troy Record that 18 months after the fire, a caretaker overseeing rehabilitation work on the house reported finding in the basement a 47-pound bomb. Police contacted the Army, and the bomb was removed. Cohoes Police Chief Joe Fahd said firefighters had immediately found in the house several unarmed artillery shells, which were checked by a Watervliet Arsenal demolition team and eventually confiscated.
After the fire, Martinez moved his wife and two teenagers to his parents' house in the Schaghticoke, just outside of Troy. He worked at the Watervliet Arsenal before going full-time with the National Guard.
A bomb? This story is just going to get weirder folks.