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Westchester Man Who Burned Down House At Owner's Request Nabbed, Police Say

Leon Carson.
Leon Carson. Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

A Westchester man who was allegedly commissioned to burn a rental house down in Connecticut and attempted to elude arrest has been busted by police following a two-year investigation.

Connecticut State Police announced the arrest of Yonkers resident Leon “Pops” Carson, Jr., who was allegedly set a mattress on fire at an Oxford rental home at the behest of the owner, Delores Lee, who had recently taken out a $300,000 insurance policy on the property.

First responders received a report of a structure fire at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Route 67 on July 29, 2016. Upon arrival, police said that they found smoke billowing from the ridge of the building, with flames coming from a bedroom window. The blaze was quickly put under control by fire crews, prompting a lengthy investigation.

Investigators said that “an area of pooled liquid was observed under a black colored sofa in the North room of the structure. An unusual pattern was also observed extending along the curtains on the North wall behind the sofa.” A plastic gasoline container was found partially opened in a cabinet under the sink with “unknown liquid substance” inside.

An accelerant detection canine trained by the Connecticut Forensics Laboratory found that there was an accelerant.

According to police, an alleged tenant in the building had refused to leave the building and Lee allegedly stated that “no one ever pays me, maybe I’ll just burn it down,” investigators said. Lee also said to the witness that she only had a $50,000 insurance policy on the property at the time of a previous fire, and now she had upped it to $300,000.

It was later determined that Lee allegedly looked to a pair of Yonkers residents, including Carson, who allegedly went through an elaborate scheme to burn down the property, Which Lee had not collected rent on in months. She was ultimately awarded a $250,000 settlement.

After the witness refused to do the deed, citing her probation for a previous conviction in Virginia, she said that “(Lee) saw ‘Pops’ walking up and offered him the money,” police said. Lee has not been charged with any crimes, though her three co-conspirators have been arrested.

According to police, Jackson set a mattress on fire, came back to the car, ordered them to drive to a highway and tossed gloves used in the alleged incident out the window into a nearby body of water. Investigators ultimately determined that the fire was intentionally set. No electrical defections were detected.

“Pops” was ultimately identified as Yonkers native Leon Carson by a Westchester County Intelligence Center analyst, though attempts to locate him were futile. On June 21, investigators received information that Carson was hiding and eluding Connecticut State Police and NYPD on Stewart Place in Yonkers. He was arrested on Thursday.

Carson was charged with burglary, arson, criminal liability related to arson, criminal mischief, tampering with evidence, interfering with an officer, insurance fraud and reckless endangerment. Two others have been arrested for their roles in the scheme. Carson is due back in Derby Court on Friday to answer the charges.

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