State official accused of arson in home fire Attorney also charged with insurance fraud

March 21, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Kate Shatzkin and Craig Timberg contributed to this article.

An assistant attorney general was arrested yesterday and charged with setting fire to his North Baltimore house, as his wife and child slept inside, in an alleged scheme to collect insurance money.

Anthony K. Waters, 45, was indicted on charges of arson and insurance fraud, his lawyer and police said. He was arrested at his attorney's downtown office yesterday afternoon and was awaiting a bail hearing last night.

The charges stem from a fire at 3 a.m. July 29, 1996, at Waters' semidetached home in the 6100 block of Dunroming Road in Cedarcroft. Police said the basement fire caused about $10,000 in damage.

Deputy State's Attorney Haven Kodeck would say only that the indictment against Waters was returned last week. "I have no further comment," he said.

Waters' lawyer, Warren Brown, said his client denies the charges. "He categorically and unequivocally would state that he would not dare put his family in that kind of danger," Brown said yesterday. An arraignment is scheduled for April 3.

Waters joined the attorney general's office in September and worked on cases for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Deputy Attorney General Carmen Shepard said he presented cases against dentists to the state Dental Board.

Shepard said Waters has been reassigned to internal projects under close supervision pending the outcome of the arson case.

Before joining the attorney general's office, Waters worked in the Legal Aid Bureau and was a partner in a private law firm, Middleton, Waters & Shavers. The firm dissolved in 1994, more than $100,000 in debt.

Lawrence William Shavers, one of Waters' former partners, pleaded guilty in 1994 to stealing more than $90,000 from the 4-year-old son of a murder victim. Shavers is serving a five-year prison sentence after violating probation in that case and pleading guilty to two counts of theft in another case.

Brown noted that troubles at his client's old law firm are several years old. "I doubt that Waters felt so concerned about the debts of the defunct firm that he set his own house on fire," the lawyer said.

Intentionally set

Police and fire officials divulged few details about the fire yesterday. Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres would confirm only that firefighters responded to a small fire in the house that morning in 1996 and that investigators said it had been intentionally set.

Among the potential witnesses listed in the indictment is Ronald Thomsen of Laurel, who said he was a private investigator retained by Nationwide Insurance to determine the cause of the fire.

Thomsen, a former member of the Prince George's County Fire Department bomb squad, would not discuss what he found in the Waters case. Jim Cawood, the Nationwide Insurance agent listed as a witness, could not be reached for comment.

Brown said insurance investigators determined that a flammable liquid had been used to set the fire in the basement of the home.

"I'm not sure why they feel he did it," Brown said yesterday.

No need for money

Brown said his client, his wife, Leila H. Waters, and their 8-year-old son continue to live at the home.

"If the state's theory is that he was doing this to get some money, there are other ways for someone who knows the law to get money other than to burn down his house when his wife and child are in it," he said.

Brown said Waters "knew all along that the insurance company was contesting" the claim. The attorney dismissed any notion that his client needed money.

"Bankruptcy wasn't looming," Brown said. "He didn't have to come up with a large sum of money over a short period of time. There's no real motive."

Pub Date: 3/21/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.