Edmonds business owner admits to setting fire to collect insurance funds

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

An Edmonds business owner has pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to a 2018 fire at her business, which investigators determined later was intentionally set. 

As part of a plea agreement, 53-year-old Connie Bigelow, owner of CJN Miniatures & More, admitted she set fire to her business on April 30, 2018 to collect insurance money as the store was struggling to make enough income to pay rent. 

Bigelow moved her business into the building at 23030 Highway 99 in Edmonds in September 2017. The store maintained an inventory of miniatures and collectibles for sale, consigned items on behalf of other individuals, and rented out space to other vendors. 

Between October 2017 and April 2018, the business fell behind in rental payments and payments to consigners.

Bigelow carried an insurance policy with State Farm Fire and Casualty Company that covered up to $100,000 in loss of business personal property, as well as loss of income, according to investigators.

However, the policy did not cover loss arising from arson.

Investigators say she made false statements to law enforcement and representatives of State Farm insurance company in the aftermath of the fire. 

As part of the plea agreement, Bigelow agreed to make full restitution. Currently, the restitution is over $195,000 but may grow as further losses are calculated in advance of sentencing.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Bigelow will be sentenced in December. 

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