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Man Allegedly Sets SUV on Fire to Collect Insurance Money

A bench warrant has been issued for Nery Leonidas Garcia, 26, of Redwood City, who failed to appear in court to face charges of felony arson and insurance fraud this week.

A bench warrant in the amount of $75,000 has been set for Nery Leonidas Garcia, 26, of Redwood City, after he skipped out on a court date Tuesday, when he was scheduled to face charges of felony arson and insurance fraud.

Garcia is accused of setting his SUV on fire last May after his wife reported it stolen, in an attempt to collect on the insurance money.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, Garcia and his wife were behind on their car payments for the Dodge Durango. Garcia's wife called their insurance company, AAA, to report the car stolen on May 3, 2011, in hopes that the insurance company would pay off the remaining balance owed on the car, reportedly about $14,000.

However, the evening of May 3, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office found the vehicle engulfed in flames in Portola Valley. The fire was investigated and found to be arson.

Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt told Patch Garcia is being charged with felony arson, though it is unclear at this point whether Garcia himself set the fire, or if he had someone else do it. Either way, his involvement warrants the charge, Pitt said.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told Patch that, when Garcia failed to show up in court on Tuesday, his $50,000 bail bond was forfeited and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

"Now we're just waiting for him to turn up," Wagstaffe said.

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