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Missouri Freemason Treasurer indicted on Federal Arson and Fraud Charges in Arcadia Valley Office Supply and Masonic Lodge Scam

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Farmington Missori Daily Journal

Iron County indicted on federal charges

By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer

IRONTON - An Iron County businessman has been indicted on federal charges of arson and mail and wire fraud.

George Wiles, a former Ironton resident and former operator of Arcadia Valley Office Supply/Teacher's Pet, has been indicted on eight federal charges, including charges that he set his Ironton business on fire and defrauded the Bismarck Masonic Lodge.

One of the charges alleges Wiles "did maliciously, by means of fire, destroy or caused to be destroyed a building (the Arcadia Valley Office Supply) and other personal property" located at 327 North Main Street in Ironton.

His business was housed in the Lopez Building, a historic site constructed in 1866, until it was destroyed by fire on Feb. 15, 1999.

Wiles is accused of burning down his business in an effort to collect $648,000 from the insurance. Wiles reportedly had just obtained business personal property insurance through the Capitol Indemnity Corporation on Dec. 15, 1998, after years of operating the business without insurance.

"As part of the scheme, on or about February 15, 1999, the same day that the second monthly insurance payment was due, Wiles caused the building rented by Arcadia Valley Office Supply ... to burn in order to obtain insurance proceeds from Capitol Indemnity Corporation," one charge reads.

According to the indictment, prior to Feb. 15, 1999, the business was in a severe financial crisis. Between Oct. 15, 1998, and Feb. 15, 1999, Wiles wrote more than 40 checks from his bank account when there was insufficient funds to cover the checks. Among the checks written with insufficient funds was a check written to the insurance company on Dec. 15. The check eventually cleared.

The charges also state Wiles "made the materially false representation" to an insurance representative in Farmington that the business' personal property was worth approximately $648,000.

According to the indictment, Wiles was also involved in another scheme to defraud the Bismarck Masonic Lodge. As treasurer of the lodge, he was authorized and entrusted to receive and spend its funds for the benefit of the lodge.

The indictment alleges Wiles made a wire transfer in the amount of $552, using Bismarck Masonic Lodge funds to pay his business' utility bill. In addition, he used lodge funds to pay his dentist bill.

The indictment also alleges he was involved in a third scheme to defraud Royal Seating Limited Company in Texas.

According to the indictment, the Arcadia Valley School District in Ironton ordered school desks from Wiles' businesses and requested delivery before the start of the school year.

After the school year began, a representative of the school reportedly complained that the desks were not delivered. Shortly after, Wiles ordered almost $20,000 worth of school desks from Royal Seating Limited Company in Texas.

The desks were reportedly shipped directly from the Texas company to the school district. The company billed the Wiles' business for $20,000 while Wiles billed the school district for $24,0000, which they paid.

When the Texas company asked Wiles for their money, Wiles reportedly told them he had already paid them for the desks and would send a canceled check as proof.

Arcadia Valley Office Supply conducted business in interstate commerce, receiving merchandise for sale from the states of Tennessee and Texas for the purpose of transacting business in Missouri. Wiles allegedly used the U.S. Postal Service, the telephone and wire transfer to defraud the insurance company, the furniture store and the masonic lodge.

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