Las Vegas pet shop owner gets at least 5 years for fire that imperiled puppies

Reuters News
|
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 9:50 PM

(Reuters) - A woman who pleaded guilty to charges that she and an accomplice set her Las Vegas pet store on fire with 25 puppies inside in an insurance scam was sentenced on Wednesday to at least five years in prison, a court official said.

Gloria Lee, who pleaded guilty last October to charges of arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty in connection with the Jan. 27, 2014, blaze, revealed in court she is pregnant, Clark County Courts spokeswoman Mary Ann Price

But Clark County Judge David Barker sentenced Lee to a maximum of 14 years in prison, with her eligibility for parole beginning after she spends five years behind bars, Price said.

Twenty-seven dogs of various breeds, including 25 puppies, were in Lee's Prince and Princess Pet Shop at the time. But they survived and were later put up for adoption, she said.

According to court papers, the fire was actually triggered by an accomplice, Kirk Bills, who poured a flammable liquid throughout the store and ignited it after he was let into the shop by Lee.

The flames were extinguished by a sprinkler system, according to local television station KLAS.

Afterward, Lee submitted a claim to her insurance company seeking to recover her losses from the fire, prosecutors said.

Bills pleaded guilty separately to charges of arson and attempted cruelty to animals and is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, Price said.

Lee's attorney, Ozzie Fumo, told KLAS that her client's pregnancy was considered high-risk and would likely be complicated if she went to prison.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)