Texas Man Who Claimed House Fire Was Due To Racism Charged With Arson

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A Texas man claimed to be a victim of a hate crime after a house fire, now he’s being charged with intentionally setting the blaze himself.

In June, a rental property owned Mario Roberson, 50, was completely destroyed by a fire in Huntsville, Texas.

At the time, three individuals were inside the residence. Unfortunately, two of them lost their lives, while the third managed to escape, albeit with serious injuries.

House fire caused by racism?

Roberson, who is a black, asserted that his rental had been singled out due to racist motivations.

The incident occurred approximately one month after another alleged act of discrimination, where Roberson claimed that someone vandalized the property with a spray painted message.

He told Fox 26 Houston that the racist graffiti read: “We don’t like your kind.”

He also mentioned that his rental had been defaced after a homeowners’ association meeting went off the rails over “an ongoing dispute over short-term rentals.”

Two weeks later, Roberson reported that an unknown individual shot into one of the home’s windows, and almost killed him.

“Racism, power, hungriness, money has gotten us to this place,” Roberson told ABC 13 Eyewitness News after the fire.

House fire leads to hate crime investigation

Following these three incidents, CAIR-Houston and the ADL Southwest urged the FBI to class the house fire as a hate crime and open an investigation.

“We have a lot of concerns over the possibility that this is a hate targeted arson, a targeted arson attacked with hate-filled motives,” William White, the director of CAIR-Houston, remarked.

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the FBI conducted a five-month long investigation, but found that insurance fraud, not a hate crime, was motivation for the fire.

Roberson was indicted for first-degree arson by a grand jury at the beginning of the week.

Prosecutors do not believe that Roberson himself set the fire, but they suspect he played a significant role.

House fire motivated by money, not hate

“He was indicted on allegations he hired someone to set it on fire for insurance fraud purposes,” said Lt. Charles Dougherty of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office .

According to ABC 13, Roberson purchased the rental in 2016 through a limited liability company.

He owes back taxes on both the LLC and the property that are upwards of $26,000.

Roberson hasn’t been arrested yet, but faces up to life in prison for the deaths of the rental’s two occupants, one of whom was a relative.

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