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June 13, 2013

Three local men are arrested in arson case

Three local men have been arrested on felony charges after investigators determined that fire was set at an unoccupied home in Hartwick to collect more than $50,000 of insurance money, Otsego County deputies said Monday.

About 60 firefighters from Hartwick, Laurens, Cooperstown, Mount Vision and Fly Creek departments responded to the May 1 fire that destroyed Claud Folds’ two-story house at 2977 County Highway 11 in the hamlet of Hartwick, authorities said.

On May 30, deputies charged Claud David “Flip” Folds, 63, and his son, Jeremy James Folds, 20, both of 2994 County Highway 11 in Hartwick, and their friend Adelbert Marion Cleaveland, 48, of Cooperstown, with third-degree arson, second-degree insurance fraud and fourth-degree conspiracy.

Authorities said some details of the case include:

At 12:45 a.m. May 1, the Otsego County 911 Center received a call from 2994 County Highway 11 reporting a possible structure fire at 2977 County Highway 11.

The two-story wood-frame residence was fully involved when crews from the Hartwick Fire Department Company No. 1 reached the scene, Chief Robert O’Brien said. O’Brien, assistant emergency services coordinator for the county, summoned help from the Hartwick Fire Department Company No. 2, and also from the Mount Vision, Fly Creek, Laurens and Cooperstown fire departments. Crews fought the blaze several hours to bring the fire under control. No one was hurt.

The Otsego County Emergency Services Department determined that the fire was incendiary.

Deputies said an application was filed for the insurance funds, which weren’t disbursed.

The defendants were arraigned in Hartwick court and sent to jail on $50,000 bail each, authorities said, but they were later released on recognizance pending later court appearances.

If convicted, defendants face 15 years in prison on the arson charge, plus an additional 15 years on the fraud charge, deputies said. District Attorney John M. Muehl and Assistant District Attorney Paul Elkan are prosecuting the cases.

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