PA Club Owner Acquitted of Arson

YORK, PA -- A fitness club owner accused of setting fire to her club’s building for money and revenge has been acquitted of the charges.

Maria Wilcoxon had been charged with arson, fraudulent insurance claims, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief and attempted theft by deception in connection with the Oct. 31, 2007, fire at The Body Factory Health Club/Tanning Salon, the York (PA) Daily Record reported. A York County jury acquitted Wilcoxon on Dec. 9.

Several fires were set inside the club in Stewartstown, PA, a fire marshal had determined, and damages were estimated at $70,000, the newspaper reported.

Wilcoxon’s first trial ended in a mistrial in January.

The prosecutor in the case told the jury that Wilcoxon’s club was failing and that her landlord was attempting to evict her. Wilcoxon’s motives for setting the fires, the prosecutor argued, were to collect insurance money and for revenge against the landlord, the newspaper reported. Wilcoxon’s attorney argued that anybody could have set the fires in an attempt to force her out.

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