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Fake hate crimes: House fires staged as anti-Latino, actually carried out by property owner behind on payments, investigators say

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Fake hate crimes — staged to appear anti-Latino — were carried out by a Florida property owner who set fire to his homes after falling behind on payments, investigators said.

What are the details?

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said two house fires that appeared to have roots in racism actually were staged, and now the owner of the homes faces charges, the Miami Herald reported.

Investigators said George Carneiro committed arson March 13 on his two newly built homes in the same Clay Hill neighborhood after falling behind on payments, the Herald said, citing a news release.

The fires caused “substantial property damage,” officials said, according to the paper, adding that Clay Hill is about 36 miles southwest of Jacksonville.

“The investigation led to Carneiro following the discovery of a video from March 12, 2023, which captured one of Carneiro’s employees purchasing fuel tanks with cash at a Walmart,” the sheriff’s office said, according to the Herald. “This video evidence was key in establishing a connection between Carneiro and the arson. Carneiro owned the homes that were burned, and bank records revealed that he was significantly behind on his payments. ...The fires were originally staged with false evidence of a hate crime to conceal the true motive.”

A warrant allowed detectives “to geographically track” Carneiro’s whereabouts during the fires, officials said, according to the paper. Carneiro has been charged with “burning to defraud the insurer and false and fraudulent insurance claims related to arson,” the Herald said, citing the sheriff’s office.

'This is our land ... Latinos are not welcome'

While the Herald said investigators haven't disclosed specifics about the racist messages, WTLV-TV reported that handwritten signs were found that indicated opposition to Latinos moving in. A neighbor told WJAX-TV a sign in front of the house read, “This is our land ... Latinos are not welcome.”

Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook pointed to the hate-crime investigation in a March 13 Facebook post, saying, “The messages left behind indicated a potential bias based motive," the Herald reported.

Investigators looking into house fires in Clay County where 'messages of hate' were left behindyoutu.be

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