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Police: Convict Targeted Firefighters In Fraud Scheme From Behind Bars

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File photo of a prison (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

File photo of a prison (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(CBS Seattle) — The man convicted of setting a 1995 warehouse fire that killed four Seattle firefighters is now accused of working from behind bars to steal the identities of firefighters and police officers connected to his case, according to the Seattle Police Department.

Martin Pang is currently serving a 35-year sentence at Monroe Correctional Complex for setting the fire. The Washington State Department of Corrections discovered in March that Pang had been working with a partner outside of prison to craft the scheme.

According to police, Pang and his accomplice were planning to set up credit accounts in the names of firefighters, police and witnesses involved in Pang’s manslaughter conviction and funnel that money into offshore accounts. Investigators say Pang and his accomplice, Charles McClain, were also plotting to steal money from the Tulalip Casino, where McClain used to work.

“Pang saw this as an opportunity to make a ton of money, so he had a nest egg when he got out of prison,” says Todd Jakobsen, an SPD Major Crimes Task Force detective who assisted in the case.

The Department of Corrections started working with the Seattle Police Department, FBI and Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force when Pang’s plot was discovered. An undercover officer was able to meet with McClain, who gave the detective social security information for the intended fraud targets.

When authorities searched Pang’s cell, they found the names and social security numbers of witnesses and personal information of firefighters involved in his case. McClain was arrested. The case has been passed to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office for charges. The plot was disrupted before Pang could steal any of his intended victims’ identities.

According to KING 5, Pang struck a deal with prosecutors in 1998; he pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter to avoid trial and a possible life sentence. Pang admitted to setting the fire at the warehouse to collect insurance money because his family’s business was failing. Recently Pang’s attorney went to court to have the guilty plea reversed arguing his client’s confession was coerced, KING 5 reports. A judge denied the request to re-open the case.

If he’s convicted on new charges, Pang could spend an additional five years in prison. He’s currently scheduled for release in November 2018.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. KING 5 News contributed to this report.)

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