Owner Of St. Cloud Press Bar Sentenced to 71 Months in Prison for Arson

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Andrew Charles Welsh has been sentenced to prison for intentionally setting fire to the Press Bar and Parlor as part of a scheme to obtain insurance money, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

U.S. District Judge Eric C. Tostrud sentenced Welsh, 43, of Saint Joseph, to 71 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $3,093,373.52 in restitution.

According to court documents, Welsh, the owner and operator of the Press Bar and Parlor located in St. Cloud, maintained a business owner’s insurance policy on the business. On February 17, 2020, as part of a scheme to fraudulently obtain insurance money, Welsh used gasoline to set a fire in his office located in the basement of the Press Bar. The fire eventually spread and resulted in the total destruction of the building as well as other losses.

On February 24, 2020, Welsh retained a Public Insurance Adjuster to assist in the preparation, presentation, and adjustment of insurance claims related to the fire at Press Bar. On February 26, 2020, Welsh, through the Public Insurance Adjuster, claimed that he was entitled to payment from the insurance company in the amount $1,430,123.28 for property damage and other losses related to the February 17, 2020, fire. Welsh admitted that in submitting the insurance claim, he falsely stated that “said loss did not originate by any act, design, or procurement on the part of your insured,” when, as Welsh knew, his arson of the Press Bar caused the loss for which he sought compensation.

On May 5, 2022, Welsh pleaded guilty to one count of arson.

U.S. Attorney Luger thanks the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and their Forensic Auditors for their skilled investigative work on this case, as well as the St. Cloud Police Department, the St. Cloud Fire Department, and the Minnesota State Fire Marshals, Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, and the Stearns County Attorney’s Office for their collaboration and assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathan H. Nelson and Evan B. Gilead prosecuted the case.