Court denies arsonist’s appeal

Jeffrey Alnutt lost an appeal in the State Supreme Court Appellate Division on Dec. 27 after he challenged various aspects of his 2010 conviction in Fulton County Court for taking part in starting a fire in an apartment building in 2004.

Alnutt’s appeal – which cited his former wife’s testimony, improper refusal to call a detective as a witness, right to a speedy trial and harsh and excessive charges – was denied, court documents said.

Alnutt was convicted in Fulton County Court on March 1, 2010, of third-degree arson, second-degree insurance fraud, two counts of third-degree insurance fraud, second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree reckless endangerment, fourth-degree conspiracy and fifth-degree conspiracy.

Alnutt was found guilty of starting a January 2004 fire in an apartment building in Gloversville he owned and having an occupant, John Hart, help him start it, court documents said.

The fire was initially found to be accidental, but further investigation and immunity from prosecution granted to Hart led the former occupant to admit he helped Alnutt start the fire.

Hart told investigators he agreed to participate in a scheme where the two men would burn the building and divide the insurance proceeds. As a part of the plan, court documents said, Hart signed the lease and obtained renter’s insurance.

Alnutt’s daughter, Aubrey Pagan, and her husband, Victor Pagan, also were convicted in the plot as they helped make the fire look like an accident and placed possessions in the building to increase the value of the insurance claim, court documents said.

Hart told investigators Aubrey and Victor Pagan went to her apartment and pretended to cook, leaving the burners on. After they left, Hart and Alnutt spread accelerants and set a roll of paper towels on fire and threw them on the stove, court documents said.

Later testimony placed items in Hart’s insurance claim as actually belonging to Alnutt, including a ring he was seen wearing after the fire and stamps and coins with Alnutt’s handwriting, court documents said.

A fire investigator also testified that although there was no proof of accelerants, there was an unusual burn pattern that suggested the fire was intentionally set.

The review of the charges argued the jury was neutral to the case and the jury’s credibility assessments and resolution of conflicting evidence satisfied the verdict.

Alnutt also was found guilty of starting a Dec. 21, 2007 fire at 22 Park St., Gloversville, that killed a tennant.

Alnutt will continue to serve his 25 years-to-life sentence.