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Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Ex-business owners to face trial over fire

By Margie Wuebker
An early May trial date has been set in the case of a Celina couple indicted in connection with a May 2005 fire that heavily damaged Richardson's Floors and More, a business they formerly owned and operated in Celina.
Jury selection will begin at 1:30 p.m. May 6 for the joint trial of David W. Sloan, 28, and Druscilla R. Sloan, 32, both of 404 W. Market St. Opening remarks are slated the following day at 8:30 a.m. Additional pretrial hearings are scheduled Feb. 13 and March 19.
The Sloans each face one count of aggravated arson following an investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office and the Celina Fire Department. The second-degree felony alleges they did by means of fire or explosion cause damage to an occupied building at 216 W. Fayette St.
The indictment also includes two counts of arson and one count of insurance fraud against each of the Sloans. The fourth-degree arson charges allege the couple knowingly created a substantial risk of physical harm to the property of William E. Richardson without his consent and with the purpose to defraud.
The insurance fraud charge, also a fourth-degree felony, alleges the couple filed an insurance claim with Celina Mutual Insurance in excess of $5,000 but less than $100,000 knowing the statement or any part of the statement was false or deceptive.
If convicted of all charges, the Sloans each face up to 121/2 years in prison and fines totaling $35,000.
A passer-by spotted smoke coming from the two-story brick structure and called 911. Fourteen firefighters and two trucks responded shortly before 6 p.m.
The fire reportedly started in a rear storage area at the flooring businesses, which had closed for the day. Flames headed up an interior stairway at one point threatening the vacant second floor. However, firefighters contained the fire before it spread further.
The Sloans, who purchased the business in November 2004, lost all the carpeting, padding and other supplies in the rear storage area.
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