The fire in question, per a regional report from KSTP, was first reported to authorities in September 2020. At the time, 30-year-old Denis Vladmirovich Molla claimed to local law enforcement officials that a group of what he described as “three unknown males” had been spotted on his property.
In a Department of Justice press release citing court documents, further details are provided, including that Molla falsely claimed to police that “someone had lit his camper on fire” and vandalized his garage door. Among the instances of vandalism were spray painted tags of “Biden 2020” and “BLM,” as well as what authorities called “an Antifa symbol.” At the time, Molla said his property had been targeted due to his public support of former Apprentice host Donald Trump. More specifically, Molla had linked the fire to his display of a Trump flag.
“In reality,” the DOJ release notes, “Molla started his own property on fire and spray painted the graffiti on his own garage.”
Following the fire, Molla is said to have made multiple insurance claims in connection with damage to his property. When several claims were turned down, Molla is said to have threatened to have complained about the insurance company to both the Department of Commerce and the Attorney General. He also started, as well as allowed other individuals to start, GoFundMe accounts aimed at raising a fire recovery funds.
On Tuesday, Molla pleaded guilty to wire fraud. As part of the staged fire, which he himself started, Molla is reported to have submitted over $300,000 in fraudulent claims, ultimately receiving an estimated $61,000 from the insurance company. Additionally, Molla-focused fundraising efforts resulted in another $17,000.