The owner of a former church and substance abuse treatment center razed in a November 2017 fire now faces charges of attempted theft and insurance fraud after refusing to pay for asbestos cleanup on the property and seeking fraudulent insurance payments.
Ivan Kriger, owner of the property at 3011 E. Wellesley Ave. in Hillyard, was charged in October following an investigation by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Criminal Investigations Unit.
Kriger took out an insurance policy the same day the fire leveled the building, Nov. 7, 2017, according to court records, and sought $324,000 in damages. The claim was denied because he didn’t have coverage at the time of the fire. The property’s assessed value that year was $202,000.
Kriger also refused to pay for the asbestos cleanup that the Spokane Clean Air Agency ordered after the building’s destruction. Fire investigators said they believed it was set by homeless occupants trying to stay warm. There were no injuries reported.
In an interview Tuesday, Kriger blamed his insurance agent for leading investigators to believe he lacked coverage on the property during the fire. He also disputed claims that he had inflated damage caused to an adjoining parking lot and denied asbestos was in the building that had caught fire. He also said he hadn’t missed any court dates, but a bench warrant was issued following a non-appearance Nov. 4, according to court records.
The city of Spokane took out a lien against the property and contracted with Rob’s Demolition to remove what remained of the building and the asbestos. The work was completed in July 2018 at a cost of about $380,000, according to city records.
Seven months later, in February 2019, Kriger submitted a $280,000 claim for damages to the city of Spokane, alleging the city’s contractor had damaged a parking lot next to the building during demolition.
A follow-up investigation by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, using satellite images and testimony from neighboring property owners, found that the alleged parking lot damage had been present since at least October 2013. Additionally, repairs to the parking lot were estimated to cost $12,000, not the amount Kriger sought.
Kriger is also under investigation for falsifying water damage claims at a property he owns near NorthTown Mall, according to court records. That case was scheduled to go to trial in January.
Kriger had been among the investors making bids to purchase the Ridpath Hotel. It was ultimately purchased by Ron Wells, who himself was ensnared in a federal fraud case unrelated to the historic downtown hotel.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Tuesday, Dec. 1, to include comment on the allegations from Ivan Kriger.
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