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Construction manager of Denver townhomes torched in 2018 indicted on federal arson, fraud charges

Feds still seeking extradition from Sint Maarten
grove street fire large.jpg
Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 18:23:49-05

DENVER – A man arrested on an island in the Caribbean in December is fighting extradition back to Colorado after he was indicted in federal court in Denver on arson and wire fraud charges, among others, after he allegedly burned down two townhome buildings under construction near Broncos Stadium at Mile High last May.

Michael Marte, 53, was indicted Dec. 6 in the U.S. District Court of Colorado on two federal counts of arson, one count of using fire to commit a federal felony and three counts of wire fraud, according to the court documents, which were unsealed by a judge last Thursday.

Marte was arrested by authorities on Sint Maarten on Dec. 27 on a provisional warrant based off his indictment, which was returned on Dec. 6 and signed off on by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff.

Marte was a managing member of ADC Construction, LLC, which was building the Denver Grove townhomes at both 1920 and 1930 Grove Street in Denver. Marte was the construction manager of both projects, which mean he was responsible for overseeing and managing construction there.

According to his indictment, Marte “maliciously damaged or destroyed by means of fire” both buildings – which contained 14 townhomes that ranged from $680,000 to $767,000 in price and were nearly complete.

The company had a $4.5 million insurance policy that covered the building from losses and damages caused by fire, according to the indictment. But the Burlington Insurance Company policy had a specific section saying that it would not pay out losses resulting from criminal acts by managers of the construction company, according to the indictment.

After Marte allegedly torched the buildings, he either wrote or had someone else write an insurance claim notice seeking reimbursement from the insurance company under its “builder risk policy” because of the fire.

But he wrote in the claim notice that the cause of the fire was “unknown at this time,” though prosecutors say that Marte at the time was “fully aware that he had caused the fire, by intentionally committing an act of arson.”

His indictment says that he continued to meet and speak with Burlington agents and claims adjusters for several weeks after the fire and continued to tell them he did not know the cause of the fire.

After his Dec. 6 indictment, the case was sealed to try to prevent Marte from fleeing law enforcement. A motion from the government to unrestrict the documents in the case says that federal agents “have been unable to secure [Marte’s] return to the U.S. since his indictment.”

It’s unclear when Marte fled the country, per the documents. But federal authorities have formally requested Marte be extradited from Sint Maarten following his Dec. 27 arrest.

Marte’s affidavit was unsealed last Thursday after the government argued that since Marte was in custody he no longer was able to flee from law enforcement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado said Monday that Marte continues to fight extradition.

Inspectors in Denver visited the site of the fire five times in the months before the fire and found no major issues that could have led to the fire, they said last year.

Federal court documents show Marte’s case was investigated by the Denver Fire Department and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

If Marte is extradited and convicted of the six charges against him, he potentially faces decades in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

A source close to the investigation said that Marte is not expected to be back in the United States anytime soon, however.