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Fire at former Ponzi scheme HQ started in wiring

Apr 28, 2010 1:20:00 PM - thestate.com
Richland County fire investigators said today the fire that destroyed the one-time Columbia headquarters of the 3 Hebrew Boys Ponzi scheme was caused by an electrical short.

The fire was started in wiring to the air conditioning system, authorities said. The statement issued by the county today did not say if the fire was an accident. County officials did not immediately return messages.

Fire crews spent 19 hours Monday and Tuesday battling the blaze at the $1.2 million, three-story office building, just off Two Notch Road near I-20.

A development company registered to a 3 Hebrew Boys leader bought the office building in late 2006 for $850,000, according to state and county public records.

The 3 Hebrew Boys remodeled the building soon after buying it, adding among other things a new air conditioning unit, said Beattie Ashmore, the court-appointed receiver for assets seized from the scheme. Any insurance proceeds from the fire will be added to fund to repay victims, Ashmore said. The operation lured 7,000 people to invest $82 million.

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