A Baltimore church pastor pleaded guilty this week to setting his Washington apartment on fire to collect insurance money, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jamel Carelock, 28, the pastor of Lead Church, pleaded guilty to charges of arson, felony destruction of property, and second-degree insurance fraud.
Prosecutors say Carelock soaked his mattress with gasoline and lit it on fire at approximately 1 a.m. Dec. 17, 2017, causing extensive damage to his and surrounding units in a complex located at 2500 block of R St. in Southeast Washington.
The complex has 94 units and is home to small children and elderly individuals who were at home at the time and forced to evacuate as the fire began to spread, the Justice Department said. One of the neighboring apartments was uninhabitable after the fire, which caused more than $40,000 worth of damage. Carelock had applied for insurance eight days before the fire and then filed for an $11,000 claim due to damage to his property, according to the Justice Department.
Carelock told the insurance company he was in Georgia, but an investigation, lead by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, found his cell phone was one mile away from the fire, five minutes after the fire alarm was pulled.
Carelock was arrested Jan. 19, and remains in custody. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26.