A Rigby man was arraigned Thursday in Jefferson County Courthouse on charges of first-degree arson and insurance fraud.
Tanner Poole, 19, reportedly set a 2017 Ford Focus on fire on Feb. 11 near Menan Buttes in an attempt to receive insurance money.
According to a probable cause affidavit the car belonged to Daniel Godby from Rexburg. Poole and Godby agreed to set the car on fire and make it look like an accident. Poole would receive between $1,000 and $2,000 for helping.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the fire and took statements from Poole and Godby. Both men said they were sitting in the car when they heard a popping noise and saw smoke coming from the dash.
Godby said a gas line came loose when he opened the hood, causing the fire.
Firefighters responding told law enforcement they were suspicious of Poole’s and Godby’s story, according to the affidavit. They said the car burned too quickly and too hot for their explanation.
Investigators interviewed Poole on Feb. 20, and received the same explanation, but he then said Godby offered him money to go along with the story. Poole said Godby stuffed paper under the dash and lit it on fire. Poole said they allowed the car to burn for several minutes before calling 911.
Godby gave a different version of events during an interview on Feb. 21, saying they planned the fire together, and that Poole burned the car by cutting the fuel lines under the hood and allowing the gas to spread before lighting the car on fire. Godby also said Poole used a compressed air can to spray the inside of the car. A compressed air can was found inside the car after the fire.
Poole denied to investigators that he planned the fire and started it.
Godby has been booked in Jefferson County Jail, but has not been arraigned.
First-degree arson is punishable with up to 25 years in prison. Insurance fraud is punishable with up to 15 years in prison.
Poole’s bond was set at $75,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 15.
Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.