ASHLAND The mother and daughter accused of hatching a plot in late January to burn down a Greenup County convenience store in order to collect insurance money have pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges.
In two March 23 federal hearings, Manjit K. Singh, 48, and Harpneet K. Bath, 27, both pleaded guilty to a single count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after waiving their right to have their case reviewed by a federal grand jury. The guilty pleas come in the wake of a March 19 indictment by a Greenup County grand jury. The Greenup County grand jury also indicted Singh’s husband, 50-year-old Gurpreet Singh Bath, on a conspiracy to commit arson charge.
Bath and Singh were arrested in late January after a joint investigation by the Greenup County Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police, the commonwealth attorney’s office and the FBI. Authorities said the two tried to hire a man to burn down Wolf’s Food Mart and Pool Hall in order to collect up to a $275,000 insurance pay-out.
The man they hired turned out to be an informant, according to court records.
Per the plea agreement, Singh offered the informant $5,000 to burn down the store because they could no longer afford to run it. She then gave the informant a tour of the store to show him how she wanted it torched and a $100 towards a $1,000 down payment on the arson. Bath traveled from Canada to deliver the other $900 in cash to the informant and to help her mother move up there, per the agreement. On Jan. 28, Gurpreet Bath set up a meeting with the informant and his wife and daughter, in which the $900 was paid and information was taken down so the remaining $4,000 could be wired to him upon completion of the job.
The plea agreement states the wire fraud charge comes stems from the fact the insurance claim would have been submitted by fax or telephone through interstate wires.
While his initials are in the plea agreements, federal records do not show Gurpreet Bath as being charged at this time.
The two women will face up to 20 years in prison and not more than $250,000 in fines or twice the gross gain or loss of the insurance in the claim. Federal prosecutors have argued the pair should have a little time shaved off because the two have accepted their plea agreements in a timely fashion, but are arguing for an overall stricter sentence on the basis that the offense intended for a loss between $250,000 and $550,000 in value. They are also asking for an enhancement on the grounds that “the offense involved a reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury,” according to the agreements.
They are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 10 in the Eastern District of Kentucky court house in Ashland.
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