Angelo Reyes, also known as “Tati,” 45, Lexington Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut, has been charged with federal offenses stemming from his alleged participation in the arson of two additional New Haven properties. It is alleged that Reyes orchestrated the burning of the properties so that he could purchase them at a decreased value in order to provide better access to adjacent properties that he owned and developed.
Reyes has been previously charged with one count of conspiracy to destroy property used in interstate commerce by fire, one count of destruction of property used in interstate commerce by fire, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of using fire to commit wire and insurance fraud. The charges stem from the July 2009 arson of People’s Laundromat, which Reyes owned and operated at 83 Lombard Street in New Haven, and Reyes‘ alleged efforts to subsequently collect on an insurance policy covering the laundromat.
Reyes also has been previously charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of using fire to commit wire and insurance fraud for a March 2005 arson of a residence Reyes owned at 42 Lombard Street, and his alleged receipt of proceeds from an insurance policy covering the property. It is alleged that Reyes subsequently renovated the 42 Lombard Street property, turning it into a six-family residence, which he then sold for $515,000.
A federal grand jury sitting in New Haven returned a third superseding indictment that charges Reyes with additional offenses relating to an October 2008 arson of a residence located at 238 Poplar Street, New Haven, and a September 2002 arson of a residence located at 139 Lloyd Street, New Haven.
With respect to 238 Poplar Street, the indictment alleges that, in approximately the fall of 2008, Reyes instructed an accomplice to set fire to the property so that a wider driveway could be developed where the house sat in order to allow better access to Reyes‘ adjacent commercial properties on Grand Avenue. Pursuant to Reyes‘ direction, on October 2, 2008, the Poplar Street residence, which was vacant and in foreclosure proceedings, was set ablaze.
The indictment further alleges that, in March 2009, pursuant to an order from the New Haven Superior Court, 238 Poplar Street was sold by auction. The property was purchased by New Grand LLC, a limited liability company owned and operated by Reyes, with a winning bid of $14,600. The only other bidder at the auction was the City of New Haven, which bid $14,500.
After acquiring the property, it is alleged that Reyes knocked down what remained of the house and developed the wider driveway, providing the access he sought to his Grand Avenue properties.
With respect to 139 Lloyd Street, the indictment alleges that, at the time of the fire, Reyes owned a property located behind 137 and 139 Lloyd Street, New Haven. Reyes‘ property was difficult to develop because it was situated in the middle of the block, was surrounded by other properties, and had no driveway for vehicles to enter or exit. Reyes devised a scheme through which he arranged to have the 139 Lloyd Street residence, which was vacant, burned down so that he could acquire the property at low cost, obtain mortgage and construction loans, build a driveway to the landlocked property, and develop a multiple family apartment building on the landlocked parcel. On approximately September 19, 2002, 139 Lloyd Street was set ablaze, pursuant to Reyes‘ direction.
It is further alleged that Reyes subsequently acquired the property and an adjacent property located at 137 Lloyd Street. Reyes also obtained loans, including a five-year, no-interest loan from the City of New Haven’s Liveable Cities Initiative (“LCI”) that did not have to be paid back, and developed the previously landlocked portion behind the 139 Lloyd Street property into what is now a multi-family apartment complex with off-street parking and a driveway where the burned residence once sat. In November 2004, Reyes sold the apartment complex for $281,000.
For the 238 Poplar Street arson, the third superseding indictment charges Reyes with one count of wire fraud and one count of using fire to commit wire fraud. For the 139 Lloyd Street arson, the third superseding indictment charges Reyes with one count of using fire to commit wire fraud.
If convicted of the arson and arson conspiracy charges, Reyes is subject to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of seven years and a maximum term of 40 years. If convicted of the wire fraud charges, Reyes is subject to a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years. If convicted of the use of fire to commit wire and insurance fraud, Reyes is subject to a mandatory term of imprisonment of 10 years, to run consecutive to any sentence imposed for the wire and insurance fraud charges.
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the charges.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Fein commended the substantial efforts and cooperation of the several agencies involved in this investigation including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Connecticut State Police, the New Haven Police Department, the New Haven Fire Department, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
U.S. Attorney Fein stated that the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information that may be relevant to the investigation should call the FBI at 203-777-6311.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ray Miller and Stephen Reynolds.