Insurance fraud alleged

Jeffrey S. Dowler, 48, of 1740 Mathiot St., Parkersburg, was arrested Wednesday evening on a fourth-degree felony charge of insurance fraud involving a Lowell property he owns.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said Dowler was arrested during an arson investigation at an unoccupied residence he owns at 207 Main St., Lowell.

“The alleged water damage…was before in a separate incident he had claimed and then the fire occurred and then we saw no work had been done,” Mincks said.

Dowler’s insurance company issued a check for $22,437 for water damage, and Dowler submitted another claim for $6,215 to cover additional costs, for which he was issued a check in the requested amount.

The arson investigation began on July 12 and Mincks said the State Fire Marshal was able to determine a point of origin and that an accelerant had been used. The damage to the house was extensive.

“It’s beyond repair, but it wasn’t beyond recognition,” he said, adding that it was easy to see Dowler’s listed repairs hadn’t been completed.

Because the fire was suspected as arson, Dowler underwent an Examination Under Oath with his insurance company. During the examination, Dowler admitted committing insurance fraud to collect the replacement costs and the contractors Dowler claimed to have used for repairs confirmed that they didn’t complete any work on the residence, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Mincks said the arson investigation is ongoing.

“The actual arson itself is still being investigated,” he said. “Mr. Dowler is a person of interest.”

Mincks said Dowler claims to have once lived in the residence, but it served primarily as a rental home. It was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

Dowler remains incarcerated at the North Central Regional Jail pending his extradition to Washington County. He faces six to 18 months in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine if convicted of the fourth-degree felony.