Series of North Judson fires connected to federal mail fraud

A Kouts man was sentenced for mail fraud.


Michael Thomas, 42, of Kouts, was sentenced before a United States District Court Judge for three counts of mail fraud.


Thomas was sentenced to 90 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release. 

Thomas was charged in 2018 with four counts of mail fraud for his role in a scheme to defraud insurance companies by arson fires.  On September 28, 2018, a jury found him guilty of all counts. 


The court also ordered him to pay restitution to State Farm Insurance Company of more than $400, 000 and to Foremost Insurance Company of over $115, 000.


According to documents in this case, from 2004 through 2013, Thomas and others executed a scheme to defraud insurance companies by setting fires to mobile homes in a mobile home park located in North Judson.  Thomas and associates submitted insurance claims immediately after the fires resulting in insurance payouts totaling over $600, 000 .


The first fire occurred on September 17, 2004, at a mobile home owned and occupied by Thomas.  In November 2010, several more fires occurred: a home and garage owned by Thomas and his wife; another home; and two unoccupied mobile homes not owned by Thomas.


In the early part of 2013, still another mobile home owned by Thomas caught fire.


Finally, on April 16, 2013, firefighters extinguished a fire at Thomas’ 2691 Julia Drive property, but firefighters needed to return several hours later to extinguish another fire at the home. 

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of the Indiana State Fire Marshal and the Indiana State Police.