Wednesday 29 November 2023

Texas Man Claimed House Burned Down Due To Hate Crime. He’s Now Charged With Arson.

 A Huntsville, Texas, man has been charged with arson after initially claiming that his house burned down as part of a hate crime.

Mario Roberson owns the home that burned back in June, and told police at the time that racist graffiti had been spray-painted on the property the month before the fire. That message allegedly said: “We don’t like your kind,” Fox 26 reported. The message also included a racial slur. Roberson claimed he was nearly shot in the same neighborhood two weeks after the graffiti was painted on the property.

Roberson owned the home as a rental property but told police that it was not being rented at the time of the blaze. The bodies of two men were found inside the burnt property, one of whom was a member of Roberson’s family. A third man escaped the fire but was seriously injured.

On Monday, a grand jury issued a “true bill” for Roberson, allowing him to be charged with first-degree felony arson. The indictment comes after a months-long investigation by the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office, KTRK reported.

Roberson told the outlet he wasn’t responsible.


The man who survived the fire told San Jacinto County deputies that he had “stepped in some gas” and that he was “burned up.” He was seen by neighbors covered in flames as he ran from the burning building, and drove a truck away from the blaze before crashing into a ditch, where he was found by deputies.

When a deputy asked the man what happened, he said: “I’m telling you. I’m from Houston. This dude, he told me to bring him out here to Huntsville… He said somebody wants to do a numbers job on a house.”

A “numbers job,” often refers to insurance fraud, law enforcement officials told KTRK.

“Whoever is doing it, he knows the man with the house,” the burned man told police on body-camera footage obtained by KTRK. “A numbers job or something. That’s all I know.”

The outlet also discovered that Roberson had multiple civil lawsuits against him in Oklahoma and Texas. One suit was filed four years to the day before the fire.

In that lawsuit, it is alleged that Roberson agreed to buy property containing a golf course, hotel, office buildings, and a restaurant for $104 million at the end of 2017, according to KTRK. He made this agreement 13 years after filing for bankruptcy. The lawsuit claimed that Roberson claimed to have $1 million in cash in briefcases when he arrived to a title company’s office to purchase the property. The plaintiff said in the lawsuit that he didn’t believe the money existed.

A judge dismissed the case without prejudice to Roberson.

After the fire, Roberson repeatedly told news outlets that he was the victim of a hate crime, telling KTRK at the time that “People are being terrible because of the hatred in their heart.” At the time, he blamed the homeowners’ association due to an ongoing dispute over rental properties.

Following Roberson’s claims, CAIR-Houston and the ADL Southwest called for the FBI to investigate the fire as a hate crime.

If convicted, Roberson faces anywhere between five and 99 years in prison.

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