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Police: Woman set Schenectady apt. fire for insurance

Police: Woman set Schenectady apt. fire for insurance

Woman faces up to 25-to-life, if convicted
Police: Woman set Schenectady apt. fire for insurance
Elizabeth Burton

SCHENECTADY -- A former resident of an apartment building on Gerling Street is now charged with setting fire to her apartment last year in order to collect insurance money, authorities said.

Elizabeth Burton, 35, most recently of Brooke Circle, Colonie, faces one count of first-degree arson.

She is accused of setting fire to her Sheridan Village apartment building residence just before noon on May 5, 2016, by lighting her bedding on fire, according to court documents.

The apartment was covered by an insurance policy through Liberty Mutual, and Burton benefited from that policy due to the damage caused by the fire, according to court documents. Burton has since been released on $40,000 bail.

Other apartments in the Sheridan Village apartment building were occupied at the time of the fire, though no one was injured.

Fire officials initially said occupant of the apartment was not home at the time of the fire, that she arrived a short time after the fire started. 

Smoke could be seen pouring from the window toward Rosa Road as residents evacuated the building and watched as firefighters extinguish the fire.

The arrest comes after a more-than-year-long investigation. The charge is based on a witness's statement, physical evidence and forensic evidence, according to court documents. 

Burton's attorney, Cheryl Coleman, who was retained by Burton on Thursday, said Friday that Burton denies the allegations. 
"All I can tell you is that, meeting my client, she has no criminal record, she's a medical professional, she's very well-spoken and absolutely denies the charges," Coleman said.

The allegation that Burton intentionally started fire in an occupied building for profit resulted in the first-degree arson charge. The potential sentence upon conviction is 25 years to life in prison, the same as for a second-degree murder conviction.

The Sheridan Village fire came the same month that another woman received a 25-years-to-life sentence for setting a February 2015 fire from which a resident had to be rescued by firefighters. 

That woman, Zabeeda Permaul, set fire to her 1414 State St. bakery for insurance money, a jury found. She set the fire knowing an upstairs apartment was occupied.

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