Montco man who torched his business gets 16 years

Posted: November 17, 2012

A Montgomery County man was sentenced to 16 years in prison Friday for burning down his Northeast Philadelphia business to collect insurance proceeds.

Michael Giamo, 31, of Huntingdon Valley, arranged the fire at his auto-repair shop May 24, 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said in a release. Giamo's shop, One Source Motors in Somerton, burned while Giamo was in Brazil, according to the indictment.

Before leaving, the indictment reads, Giamo left containers of gasoline at One Source and agreed to pay a longtime friend $10,000 for the arson.

The friend, Israel "Izzy" Kniestedt, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and was sentenced to 71/2 years.

Giamo received more than $127,000 in insurance proceeds from the fire, the indictment reads. When questioned by investigators, Giamo attempted to cover up his friendship with Kniestedt three times.

A federal jury found Giamo guilty March 1 of mail fraud, using fire to commit mail fraud, false statements to federal investigators, obstruction of justice, and related charges.

Giamo was also sentenced to pay restitution of more than $200,000.

The investigation was carried out by the ATF's citywide arson task force, which includes the Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia Fire Department, said Special Agent Steven Bartholomew, a spokesman for the ATF's Philadelphia Field Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark B. Dubnoff.

Contact Jonathan Lai at 215-854-5151,, or on Twitter @elaijuh.

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