Ex-Kyrene constable arrested in insurance arson plot - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Ex-Kyrene constable arrested in insurance arson plot

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Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 1:18 pm | Updated: 10:21 pm, Mon Oct 24, 2011.

A former Maricopa County constable for the Kyrene Justice Court has been arrested by Tempe police on suspicion of plotting to burn down his Tempe home for insurance money.

Jonathan Harold Irwin Levenson, 30, was arrested Saturday night after a four-month investigation that found evidence he had reached out to people and devised a plan for them to take part in a scheme to burn down his home and collect the insurance.

According to Sgt. Steve Carbajal, a Tempe police spokesman, Levenson planned to be out of state when the planned arson took place during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, directing others to mark the home with anti-Semitic symbols first to disguise it as a hate crime. On May 15, he reported to Tempe police that someone had sprayed "Jew" on his vehicle while parked in the 1200 block of West First Street in Tempe. Levenson reportedly told the investigating officer he washed the paint off his car before realizing it should have been photographed for evidence. He also reportedly contacted Tempe police June 30 to report that his house had been vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols.

After Levenson's arrest, Carbajal said in an email, the suspect admitted to conspiring with others to burn down his home, but said he had decided not to go forward with the plan. He faces felony charges of conspiracy to commit arson of an occupied structure and conspiracy to commit fraud schemes and artifices, as well as misdemeanor false reporting to law enforcement.

Carbajal said no other suspects are facing charges and the names of the people Levenson contacted as part of the plot would not be released.

Levenson's term as constable ended in January, when he was succeeded by Brandon Schmoll. The Kyrene district comprises Ahwatukee Foothills, Guadalupe and parts of Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Constables are elected to four-year terms and are responsible for  serving eviction notices, orders of protection, and civil and criminal summons and subpoenas as well as seizing property to satisfy judgments and providing security to the justice courts.

In September 2010, according to the Ahwatukee Foothills News, the Arizona Constable Ethics Standards and Training Board, a state oversight committee that investigates complaints against constables, submitted Levenson's name to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and Superior Court for possible criminal prosecution for allegedly failing to serve several writs. Levenson denied the accusations.

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