Omaha, Nebraska — A federal trial has begun for an Omaha businessman accused of paying someone to set fire to his manufacturing plant near Fort Calhoun in eastern Nebraska.
Prosecutors say 52-year-old Thomas Schropp was in financial trouble and hoped to gain around $4 million in insurance proceeds for the destruction of his PK Manufacturing plant. It burned down on Nov. 20, 2008. The Omaha World-Herald says the trial began Tuesday.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Russ Mayer says Schropp promised Billy Richards $20,000 if he'd torch the plant. Richards has since pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of a building by fire. He's expected to testify against Schropp.
Defense attorney Alan Stoler says the government can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Schropp was involved with the plant fire.