Mt. Juliet man arrested for arson, manufacturing marijuana
MT. JULIET, Tenn. -
Two men have been indicted by a federal grand jury after participating in the intentional burning of a newly constructed home in Mt. Juliet.
Authorities reported that 51-year-old Steven Mellides from New York and 34-year-old John Fisher of Mt. Juliet are each charged with conspiring to commit, and committing, mail fraud and arson.
The indictments remained sealed until Friday.
According to the indictments, Mellides owned a residence in Mt. Juliet and conspired with Fisher, who helped build the home, about intentionally burning it down.
Fisher eventually set fire to the house on December 12, 2009. It was worth $500,000.
Afterward, Mellides told State Farm insurance that he did not know how the fire started and had not asked anyone to set the fire, which led to multiple checks being mailed from State Farm to Mellides to pay for the damage to his home.
If convicted, both Fisher and Mellides face up to 20 years in prison on top of a $200,000 fine and forfeiture of property derived from or used in violation of the offenses charged.
"These arrests indicate the collaborative effort by federal, state and local authorities" said Jeff Fulton, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, Nashville Field Division.
"Arson is a crime of violence that places innocent people's lives and property in harm's way," he added.
While arresting Fisher for the federal arson charges, authorities detected a strong odor of marijuana.
Authorities reported that a grow operation was discovered at his residence on Crosswoods Drive Thursday evening inside his garage.
Fisher had 103 marijuana plants, some of which were 6 feet tall, as well as a large quantity of processed marijuana.
Police reported that a greenhouse in Fisher's backyard housed 55 more marijuana plants.
He is now charged with manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana for resale by the Metro police.
Fisher is currently in federal custody, but will be booked on the Metro arrest warrants in the near future.