SEATTLE — A woman who set her miniature-doll store on fire was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to a year of house arrest and five years of probation.
Connie Bigelow, 54, pleaded guilty in September to burning her Edmonds business to collect insurance money. The Shoreline woman had been struggling to make rent payments 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 to vendors.
She fell behind on rent payments between October 2017 and April 2018. So she hatched a plan to burn it up and put in a claim for damages with her insurance company, U.S. attorneys alleged.
On April 30, 2018, Bigelow set a fire in her store beneath three Thomas Kinkade paintings worth thousands of dollars each, charging papers say.
The next day, she put in a claim with State Farm Insurance. She allegedly told insurance representatives that somebody had broken into her business and set the fire.
Bigelow also made false statements to law enforcement, according to the charges.
Prosecutors asked the judge for a year in prison, “citing the inherent danger of the fire and the losses to the community,” according to a Department of Justice news release.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Robert Lasnik said he opted for home confinement because of the COVID pandemic, according to the court.
Bigelow agreed to make full restitution when she pleaded guilty. She owes more than $200,000 to the building owners and about 50 victims who lost consigned items in the fire.
The Shoreline woman wrote a public message in a Facebook status two days after she pleaded guilty.
“Sometimes we make choices in life that we regret, don’t remember, or even understand ourselves,” Bigelow wrote. “Sometimes things happen we have to take responsibility for, no matter what the real circumstances or story. Stepping forward and saying ‘I’m sorry and want to make amends’ may seem stupid, shallow, and unacceptable to others. But that is the step I have taken, and no matter what I want to give others closure so they can move on.”
State records show Bigelow’s business license for CJN Miniatures & More dissolved in 2019.
She was listed on the license of another business with a similar name: Miniatures & More. That license was set to expire in September. On Friday, it was listed as “delinquent.”
Yet on the business’s Facebook page, Miniatures & More advertised being open for business at a different Edmonds address earlier this month. A post advertised a sale as recently as Jan. 8, saying the store was “overfull from floor to ceiling in both rooms.”