D.A. Named New York's Prosecutor of the Year

Louise Sira takes down deadly insurance arsonist

ALBANY, NY (11/18/2011)(readMedia)-- Bringing down a deadly insurance arsonist has earned Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira, the first-ever Prosecutor of the Year award by the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NYAAIF).

Sira spearheaded a two-year, multi-agency investigation that resulted in the conviction of Jeffrey Alnutt, his daughter and son-in-law for a deadly insurance-based arson. Alnutt was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

In 2004, an Alnutt-owned rental property in Johnstown was destroyed by fire, but the investigation fell short of the threshold for prosecution and remained inactive. In 2007, another fire occurred at an Alnutt-owned property in Gloversville, which destroyed the building and resulted in the death of tenant Debra Morris.

After interviewing more than 30 witnesses and working long nights and weekends, Sira discovered that Alnutt was in deep financial trouble, and was set to make $200,000 from the destruction of the building.

Sira's dedication to rooting out the truth, ability to piece together a complex case, and leadership in the prosecution eventually led to Alnutt's 25-year sentence.

"Sira succeeded despite difficult circumstances, budget constraints and few support staff," said John Sargent, NYAAIF chair during the awards presentation. The award was presented by New York Frauds Bureau investigator Phil D'Angelo, who worked with Sira on the case. "Through hard work and relentless drive, District Attorney Sira took down a dangerous case of greed."

The NYAAIF award launched this year, seeking to recognize best practices and outstanding success in prosecuting insurance fraud in New York. NYAAIF is an alliance of more than 100 insurance companies in New York that was created in 1999 to educate consumers about the cost of fraud and to help consumers avoid becoming victims. For more information, visit www.fraudny.org

For more information on the case against Jeffrey Alnutt, visit the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame.