Friday, December 23, 2016

Amherst Man Sentenced for Murdering Girlfriend and Setting Fires for Insurance Benefits

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Ronald Epps, 48, of Amherst, NY, who was convicted following a jury trial of wire fraud, mail fraud, arson, possession of Molotov Cocktails, maintaining a premises for drug trafficking, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, was sentenced to 60 years by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

“Today’s verdict is believed to be the first instance where this Office has used the federal fraud laws to convict a murderer,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “This Office will continue to use all of the resources at our disposal to rid our streets of dangerous predators.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa M. Marangola and Joel Violanti, who handled the case, stated that the defendant murdered his fiancee, Angela Moss, on August 27, 2009 in order to collect on the victim’s life insurance policy which listed Epps as the sole beneficiary. Ronald Epps and Angela Moss were engaged to be married and lived together on Cascade Drive in Amherst. Previously, on July 2, 2009, Epps and Moss went to a State Farm Insurance branch to make changes to Moss’ life insurance policy. At the time, Epps was a minor beneficiary. The $100,000 policy was changed, making the defendant the sole beneficiary.

On August 27, 2009, Moss left her place of employment at Absolut Care on Armor Road in Orchard Park, NY at 11:00 p.m. The victim was last seen getting into the passenger seat of her car. Moss’ body was discovered at 6:00 a.m. the following morning on California Road by colleagues heading into work. The prosecution argued that the defendant waited in the victim’s car then drove to California Road where Epps shot Moss once in the back of her head and left her body on the side of the road. The victim’s car was also found abandoned nearby.

On September 1, 2009, Epps filed a claim with State Farm Insurance in an attempt to collect on Moss’s life insurance policy. To date, the defendant has not received any insurance money related to the policy.

Following Moss’s murder, the defendant remained in the apartment the two had lived in together. On August 1, 2010, Epps obtained a renter’s insurance policy from State Farm Insurance. On October 13, 2010, the defendant set fire to the vacant apartment next door with Molotov Cocktails. On this occasion, the damage to Epps’ apartment was minimal. On October 15, the defendant also set fire to his own apartment. On May 31, 2011, Epps received $3,769 from State Farm Insurance for damages to his property.

Epps also used his apartment for distributing cocaine. Several witnesses testified at trial that they purchased cocaine and marijuana from the defendant at 21 Cascade Drive. Amherst police officers testified that they seized cocaine, pills, and drug paraphernalia from the defendant’s residence on August 25, 2010.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division, the Orchard Park Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Pacholec, and the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey.

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