A 71-year-old bar owner in western Wisconsin was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday for setting fire to his own establishment five years ago to collect the insurance money.
Following an eight-day trial, Kevin Grant in February was found guilty by a jury of four criminal counts related to intentionally setting fire to the Cubby Hole bar and restaurant in Woodville, including arson of a building with intent to defraud, second-degree reckless endangerment, unsafe burning of one’s own building and fraudulent insurance claims greater than $2,500.
Firefighters responding to the fire on Dec. 29, 2018, detected an odor of gasoline and requested the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to assist in the investigation.
The fire resulted in severe damage to the restaurant, for which Grant was paid more than $500,000 through insurance for property damage and losses, according to a statement from the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division.
The case was prosecuted by the St. Croix District Attorney’s Office, which demonstrated at trial how Grant had tried unsuccessfully for years to sell the vacant bar and filmed a video of the Cubby Hole for insurance purposes in the days leading up to the fire. He also filmed a space heater in his garage, which appeared to match the space heater found under the floorboards of the bar by the fire’s origin.
In the months leading up to the arson, Grant — who testified in his own defense — recorded phone calls with friends, family and law enforcement, “planting seeds that the building had electrical issues and that people were out to get him,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Grant was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and restitution to be determined at a later date.