A Minnesota man who claimed his camper bearing a “Trump 2020” flag was set ablaze in a politically motivated attack two years ago has been federally charged as prosecutors say he staged the fire to rake in nearly $80,000 in insurance claims and donations.
Denis Vladmirovich Molla, of Brooklyn Center, was charged with two counts of wire fraud, according to the indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Molla told police that his camper was set on fire because of the Trump flag and claimed that his garage door was spray-painted with graffiti saying “Biden 2020” and “BLM” and with an antifa symbol, on Sept. 23, 2020, according to the indictment.
He told authorities he noticed “three unknown males” near his home and heard an explosion.
“In reality, as Molla well knew, Molla started his own property on fire, Molla spray painted the graffiti on his own property and there were no unknown males near his home,” the indictment stated.
Molla submitted multiple insurance claims seeking coverage for the damage to his garage, camper, vehicles and residence caused by the fire, court documents said.
When the insurance company denied some of the claims, he accused the company of defrauding him and threatened to report it to the Commerce Department and the attorney general.
Molla also created and allowed other people to create two GoFundMe fundraiser accounts to benefit him and his family. He withdrew thousands of dollars from the accounts into his personal bank account, the indictment said.
In total, Molla made $78,000 in the scheme, prosecutors said. He filed a claim for more than $300,000 with his insurance company and received $61,000 in payments, and he pocketed more than $17,000 from GoFundMe donors, court documents said.
The indictment orders Molla to forfeit any property derived from proceeds traceable to the alleged fraud.
Molla was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. He was released on a personal recognizance bond, court records show.
Molla's attorney declined to comment.