SEATTLE — A woman who set fire to her miniature doll shop was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday to one year house arrest and five years probation.
Connie Bigelow, 54, pleaded guilty in September to burning down her Edmonds business to collect insurance money. The Shoreline woman was struggling to pay rent for the business, CJN Miniatures & More. She had moved her store to a building at 23030 Highway 99 the year before the fire, in 2017.
Bigelow sold miniatures and collectibles, consigned items, and rented space from vendors.
She fell behind on rent payments between October 2017 and April 2018, so she hatched a plan to burn it down and filed a claim for damages with her insurance company, US attorneys have claimed.
On April 30, 2018, Bigelow set fire to his store under three paintings by Thomas Kinkade worth thousands of dollars each, according to the newspapers.
The next day, she filed a claim with State Farm Insurance. She allegedly told insurance representatives that someone had broken into her business and set the fire.
Bigelow also made false statements to law enforcement, the charges allege.
Prosecutors asked the judge for a year in prison, “citing the inherent danger of the fire and the loss to the community,” according to a Justice Department press release.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Robert Lasnik said he opted for home confinement due to the COVID pandemic, the court heard.
Bigelow agreed to make full restitution when she pleaded guilty. She owes more than $200,000 to the owners of the building and about 50 victims who lost items consigned to the fire.
The Shoreline woman wrote a public message in a Facebook status two days after pleading guilty.
“Sometimes we make choices in life that we regret, don’t remember, or even understand ourselves,” Bigelow wrote. “Sometimes things happen that we need to take responsibility for, regardless of the actual circumstances or story. To come forward and say ‘I’m sorry and I want to make amends’ may seem silly, superficial and unacceptable to But that’s the step I took, and whatever I want to give others closure so they can move on.
State records show Bigelow’s business license for CJN Miniatures & More was terminated in 2019.
It was on the license of another company with a similar name: Miniatures & More. This license was to expire in September. On Friday, he was listed as a “delinquent”.
Yet on the company’s Facebook page, Miniatures & More announced it was opening at a different Edmonds address earlier this month. One article advertised a sale as recently as January 8, claiming the store was “too full from floor to ceiling in both rooms.”