Weatherford Democrat

July 6, 2012

Couple still face charges following house fire

Christin Coyne

PARKER COUNTY — Though a family member publicly stated last week that an FBI investigation against a man accused of setting fire to his Parker County house last year for $429,000 in insurance money has been dropped, the Parker County District Attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that they are continuing to pursue charges.

John “Matt” Madison Holmes, 40, was arrested June 2, 2011 on charges of insurance fraud, arson and money laundering, and has been out on bond since then. His wife, Jodi Sue Holmes, 37, was arrested on a charge of money laundering, as well.

Matt Holmes ex-wife, Jacqueline Laurita, one of the four main cast members on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” wrote on her blog last week that Holmes and his wife are innocent.

“It was an unfortunate situation because, in the end, after my ex passed a few lie detector tests, the FBI dropped the investigation against him,” Laurita wrote in the June 27 entry.

Though investigator Ken Dabbs with the Parker County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed last year that the FBI was involved in the insurance fraud investigation, no federal charges against Holmes have been filed as of this week.

An FBI spokeswoman said Thursday she could not confirm or deny there is or was any investigation involving Holmes.

The Parker County case has not been presented to a grand jury yet, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. The case was forwarded to the district attorney’s office for prosecution in March and the charges are still pending.

Soon after the March 12, 2011, fire that destroyed the couple’s two-story house that was undergoing remodel work at 1450 Veal Station Road, Matt Holmes told Dabbs he had been at the house dropping off supplies for contractors 30 to 45 minutes before firefighters were called out to the blaze, according to court records.

Dabbs, who already believed the fire to be intentionally set after finding no electrical shorts or other reasonable cause, was contacted on May 20, 2011, by an insurance representative, who had received a tip that Holmes was involved in the fire.

The family nanny implicated Holmes, saying that Holmes was going to pay her $5,000 from the insurance money, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

The nanny reportedly said Holmes told her that he was going to buy a house in her name, burn it and give her even more money, Dabbs wrote.

Holmes allegedly told her he used kerosene and gasoline to start the fire in three rooms and that “the local fire marshal was dumb because he thought the propane (in the house) is what started the fire,” according to the affidavit.

Dabbs wrote that Holmes was the only person he spoke with about the propane.

Holmes had previously attempted to burn down the house using a trash can with unknown contents but it didn’t work, the woman reportedly told officials.

She reportedly found out the fire was an arson on May 14, according to the affidavit.

The woman said Holmes’ wife also knew about the arson and used the insurance proceeds to get plastic surgery and help purchase a $40,000 diamond ring, according to the probable cause statement.

Dabbs called the woman a “credible witness,” though Laurita called her a “fired, disgruntled ex-employee/nanny.”

The Democrat was unable to reach the Holmeses for comment Thursday.