Hudson Valley Post Top 10 New York Stories of 2021: Story # 4

Fire destroys popular Hudson Valley restaurant, New York owner arrested

Original article: December 9, 2021


Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler on Wednesday announced that Zef Gjurashaj, 59, of Newburgh, and his nephew’s wife, Marina Gjurashaj, 37, of Yonkers, had been indicted by the grand Orange County jury and charged with felonies including first degree arson, conspiracy, insurance fraud, tax evasion and more.

“First degree arson is one of the most infrequently charged crimes in this state due to the complexity of the evidence and other legal issues and I warmly commend all law enforcement agencies for their efforts. tireless work on this case ”, Hoovler. “The total disregard for human life and property shown in this case is appalling. The selfish actions of the defendants in this case were said to have been motivated by sheer greed. However, the hard work of law enforcement professionals during this investigation brought to light the crimes these defendants hoped to disappear in the flames they lit. “

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to intentionally burn down Andiamo’s restaurant, located at 5025 Route 9W, in the city of Newburgh, Orange County, New York, in September 2017.

It is alleged that Zef Gjurashaj, who operated the catering business in the fall of 2017, knew the business was in deep financial decline and decided to burn the business for insurance purposes.

About three weeks before the fire, Zef Gjurashaj hired his niece, Marina Gjurashaj to work at the Andiamo restaurant. Investigation into the fire revealed that on September 6, 2017, Marina Gjurashaj intentionally set the building on fire for the financial benefit of her uncle, officials said.

After the fire, in December 2017, Zef Gjurashaj allegedly presented his insurance company with fraudulent proof of loss in order to obtain payment for damages caused by the fire and submitted other fraudulent documents to the insurance company. insurance until 2018. The restaurant was subsequently demolished due to the damage. .

The fire completely destroyed Andiamo’s restaurant located next to Alexis Diner.

“There were fire trucks everywhere. And I mean the problem was there was smoke going into the restaurant. So we tried to deal with it,” Alexis owner told ABC. Dinner, Spyros Varnavides.

It is alleged that on two occasions in 2018, Zef Gjurashaj testified falsely during an examination under oath (EUO) conducted by the insurance company regarding the sightings of the scene of the fire.

“Insurance fraud involving arson not only imposes higher insurance premiums on consumers, but also puts lives at risk,” said Adrienne A. Harris, acting superintendent of the financial services department of the New York State.
Both were returned without bond to the Orange County Jail where they remain. Both face 25 years in life in prison if convicted on the main count of arson.

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