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Orange Park Doctor Pleads Guilty in Arson Conspiracy

2/5/2001

TALLAHASSEE – An Orange Park doctor is facing a year in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arson for the 1996 burning of a vacation home and three rental properties, Florida Treasurer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher announced today.

Dr. Timothy Carter, 57, an optometrist, entered the plea Monday in Clay County Circuit Court. In addition to the jail time, he was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $265,000 in restitution. He was facing charges of arson, burning to defraud, insurance fraud, racketeering and grand theft, but pleaded to the conspiracy charge as part of a plea agreement.

The Clay County State Attorney's Office handled the prosecution.

Investigators with the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, within the Division of State Fire Marshal that investigates fires involving arson or unknown causes, said Carter hired a third party to actually set the fires. One of the men cooperated with investigators.

Investigators said the motive was money. The rental property was burned in an attempt to clear the property and influence adjacent residents to leave so the property could be sold. The vacation home, located in Dixie County, was torched to collect an insurance payment, investigators said.

Anyone with information about possible arson or fraud should call the State Fire Marshal's Arson Hotline at 1-800-638-3473 or 1-877-662-7766.