Baton Rouge restaurant owner accused of burning down his own business for insurance money

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge area restaurant owner has been arrested after a months-long investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office and the St. George Fire Department for reportedly setting fire to his own business in order to collect insurance money.

Jonathan Paul Marino, 36, was arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on charges for allegedly intentionally setting fire to a restaurant he owned on March 12, 2017. The restaurant, called The Cast Iron Kitchen, was located in the 5400 block of Jones Creek Road. The fire caused extensive damaged to the building and adjacent structures, officials say.

During the investigation, it was found another fire occurred in 2015 at a restaurant Marino owned in Prairieville called The Italian Bowl. Further investigation showed Marino had tried to set fire to the building on at least three separate occasions in an attempt to collect insurance money. Marino faces arson charges in Ascension Parish related to those crimes.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, detectives were able to get surveillance footage that showed Marino leaving The Cast Iron Kitchen, which was closed at the time, while smoke could be seen coming from the building. A short while later, emergency crews arrived on scene after a passerby called 911.

While St. George fire crews were putting out the fire, a portion of the roof collapsed, injuring a firefighter, who had to be hospitalized.

Investigators also found that Marino reportedly stole several grocery items from a nearby Walmart just before the fire at his restaurant.

"We have and will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to defraud insurance companies for financial gain. Their actions victimize every person who lives, visits, works, or does business in this state," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.

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