A Laurel County couple has been charged with theft for allegedly claiming their house burned down so they could solicit donations, according to a news release from Kentucky State Police.
The house the couple claimed to have lived in did burn, but they didn't live there. It was unoccupied, state police said.
Robert W. Maxie, 53, and his wife Brittany McDonald, 26, of London, have been charged with one count of theft by deception.
Detective Brian Lewis, a state police arson investigator, arrested the couple Wednesday afternoon.
Lewis is a member of a volunteer fire department and responded with other firefighters to a house fire in the East Bernstadt area on July 3, said trooper Don Trosper, spokesman for the London post of the state police. Lewis later investigated the fire and determined it was deliberately set, Trosper said.
Maxie and McDonald came to the fire department after the house was destroyed and requested a copy of the run sheet for the fire, Trosper said. The purpose allegedly was to show the information to people to make them think Maxie and McDonald had been victims of a fire, Trosper said.
Lewis told them he knew they didn't live there, but the two took a copy of the information anyway, Trosper said.
The two got donations, including cash and a free motel stay, from several community organizations, Trosper said.
Lewis arrested them after confirming with the owner of the home that the pair hadn't lived there and that it was unoccupied, according to the news release. So far, only one victim has pressed charges, according to a news release.
The arson at the house remains under investigation. Maxie and McDonald are not suspects, Trosper said.