Three Charles County women are facing arson and related charges after investigators said one of them hired another to set fire to her car so she could avoid paying her car note.
Authorities say that Nichelle Underwood, 44, of Waldorf, was unable to make the $1,300 monthly payments on her 2007 Chevrolet Corvette, which she bought in August for $77,000. Underwood allegedly reached out to her sister, 40-year-old Tanya Mathis, also of Waldorf, who allegedly put Underwood in touch with 49-year-old Angela Hemsley, of White Plains. Authorities say that Hemsley told Underwood that she would burn the Corvette for $500.
The car was found in the early morning hours of December 9 near Friendship Landing Park by a Charles County Sheriff's deputy. Fire marshals determined that the fire had been set intentionally and began an investigation.
Underwood has been charged with malicious burning/fraud and conspiracy of malicious burning/fraud. Mathis and Hemsley have been charged with second degree arson and conspiracy of second degree arson. If convicted, the three women face between 5 and 20 years in prison and/or fines between $5,000 and $30,000.
“When someone commits arson and vehicle insurance fraud, they are stealing directly from the pockets of hard-working, honest Marylanders,” State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard said in a statement. “I am proud of the top-notch investigative work done by my team and those with Charles County Sheriff’s Office to crack down on fraud and hold those accountable for their actions.”
The investigation is ongoing; authorities are seeking a fourth person connected to the case.