View Full Version : Rhode Island Man Accused Of Filing False Report After Fire

02-26-2003, 02:14 PM
First off, I think this guy must have lost his mind:o

WARWICK R.I. -- A man was arraigned Wednesday on charges of filing a false missing persons report in connection with the nightclub fire in West Warwick.

Jeremy Howell, of West Warwick, allegedly made up the name of a girlfriend and claimed she'd been missing since the fire.

Howell was arraigned in Kent County District Court on four misdemeanor counts.

State police said Howell went to the Crowne Plaza Hotel Friday afternoon to report that his girlfriend went to see the concert at The Station nightclub the night before and was missing.

Police said Howell identified the missing woman as 24-year-old Jessica Simpson, of North Kingstown, R.I.

The Red Cross provided Howell with a cell phone, food and a room for the night at the hotel. The thought was that his girlfriend was a victim in the fire.

The Crowne Plaza has been a resource center for families of the victims since the tragedy.

McGee reported state police and West Warwick police became suspicious Tuesday when Howell did not return the cell phone that was lent to him. Investigators questioned Howell and determined he filed a false report.

Howell pleaded guilty to the charges, which Judge Jeanne LaFazia rejected. She entered a not guilty plea.

LaFazia told Howell she wants him to speak to an attorney and have a mental competency test. She also told Howell that he is facing jail time.

LaFazia had some harsh words for Howell, saying that if the allegations prove true, he has wasted important time and effort on the behalf of investigators. And she also said he took away resources from victims who were suffering real losses.

The judge set bail at $4,000 cash.

02-26-2003, 02:28 PM
I'm sorry to say I'm not surprised. You know, after 9/11 there was a homeless man who scamed thousands and thousands of dollars from the goverment by claiming he had a street stand selling --whatever-- and that his "business" was destroyed. This was something that the gov. set up for legitimate street vendors but this guy would go around, rounding up other bums & use them to make the same claim & he'd take a cut of the money they got.

I'm sure this guy saw this as a golden oportunity. Really pathetic. Strange that the judge rejected his guilty plea though......... :rolleyes:

02-26-2003, 02:36 PM
Ooops! :)

02-26-2003, 03:00 PM
That is just sick. just absolutely sick. As someone who is feeling fisthand the loss of loved ones from this fire, I cannot even begin to tell you how sick this makes me.:mad:

02-26-2003, 07:37 PM
In the report that I saw on channel 10 it was reported that the man is homeless and seems to be suffering from some type of mental illness. I was also curious as to why his plea was rejected but yet the judge told him he will be facing jail time. That seemed strange to me but I'm completely baffled as to how the justice system works.

02-26-2003, 07:55 PM
I don't know for sure- please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the punishment is greater for a plea of "not guilty" versus a "guilty plea." Then again, now that someone mentioned that the man has mental illnes, if that's true, maybe that had something to do with it. I'm really not sure, but that's all I can think of.

02-27-2003, 09:05 AM
I am not surprised either.

02-27-2003, 10:49 AM
I saw this on the news last night, and from how they made it sound, I think the judge did not let him enter a guilty plea because she wants him to have a psychiatric evaluation.

02-27-2003, 12:53 PM
He may be mentally ill and for whatever reason thinks that he lost someone in the fire. He may not be able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Either way he needs help.

02-27-2003, 01:09 PM
Originally posted by 13ducks

I'm sure this guy saw this as a golden oportunity. Really pathetic. Strange that the judge rejected his guilty plea though......... :rolleyes:

they do this sometimes if it looks like it might be a high profile case, that way he will get this trial and he doesn't have as much grounds to appeal the verdict on. they will alot of times say they didn't know they what it meant when their attorney advised the to plead guilty and such and so on, and it just gives all kinds of rooms for appeals, so just from all i've seen i can understand why she did it.