|(DAVID AKIN/QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)
A Canadian businessman who was once dubbed a successful immigrant to the U.S. is being extradited to Virginia where he is accused of hiring three people to torch his furniture store to collect an insurance policy.
Jay Aneja, 47, is named in a 12-count 2009 indictment for arson and fraud relating to recruiting people to set fire to his store so he could claim insurance benefits for damage, U.S. police allege.
He faces up to 15 years in a U.S. prison if convicted, fines totalling $2 million and deportation to Canada, officials said.
Aneja fled to the Toronto-area where he had been hiding until his arrest. The three men allegedly hired to commit the arson have been arrested and two have since plead guilty.
He was ordered committed for extradition last week in a motion heard before Judge Thomas Lofchik of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
U.S. police allege Aneja was vice-president of Weekend Sofa Outlet, a family-owned store in Roanoke, Va. They claim he hired people to torch the business so he could collect a policy worth about $140,000.
Police said the fire caused $850,000 in damages to the store and it took 35 firefighters an hour to bring it under control.
Aneja lied to police when arrested, claiming he was a U.S. citizen, court heard. It was determined that he is Canadian and all his information became suspect and had to be verified.
He and his family were hailed as successful immigrants in Roanoke for owning a string of small businesses including furniture, grocery and jewelry stores.
"I am satisfied that there is some evidence available for trial ... of the parallel Canadian crime upon which a jury properly instructed could convict," Lofchik ruled.
Aneja faces charges in Virginia of using a fire to commit a felony, maliciously damaging a building by fire and two counts of conspiracy. He was also charged with falsely representing himself as a U.S. citizen when interviewed by investigators.