AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Three people are behind bars after Richmond County deputies said they conspired to set a vehicle on fire as part of a scam to defraud an insurance company.
Karl Kitson is accused of recruiting Russell Wolfe and Tonya Lewis to burn his vehicle so that he could make a stolen vehicle claim with his insurance company, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
Around 8 p.m. on Sept. 1, deputies responded to a vehicle fire on the 1700 block of Gravel Pit Road. They found a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe without any tires engulfed in flames.
A short distance away, deputies found an abandoned 1989 GMC Sierra that had crashed into a fence. The key was still in the ignition, and inside the bed of the truck were the 22" rims from the Tahoe and a gas can.
When deputies found the Tahoe on fire, it had not been reported stolen by the owner, who investigators later learned was Kitson.
The investigation also revealed that Kitson had taken his Tahoe to Wolfe's house and asked him to strip and dispose of the vehicle, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies said Wolfe and his girlfriend, Lewis, took the vehicle to Gravel Pit Road, removed the rims and tires, and set it on fire.
Lewis was driving the GMC Sierra away with Wolfe when she lost control and crashed.
Kitson filed a stolen vehicle report later in the day on Sept. 1, and made an insurance claim with Everest Security Insurance three days later.
Kitson is charged with felony insurance fraud and felony first-degree arson to a vehicle, according to the sheriff's office. Wolfe and Lewis are each charged with felony first-degree arson to a vehicle. Lewis is also charged with failure to maintain lane and leaving the scene of an accident.