Shop Owner, Employees Accused of Torching Cars in Customer Conflict - BodyShop Business
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Shop Owner, Employees Accused of Torching Cars in Customer Conflict

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A Florida shop owner and two employees are facing felony arson charges after a disagreement with a customer escalated out of control. Bill Warnke, who owns J&B Collision in Port Charlotte, Fla., 18-year-old-Kyle Kissel and 19-year-old Benjamin Murtagh are accused of burning a total of five vehicles belonging to the customer and his business associate as part of a revenge plot stemming from a disagreement over an estimate, the Herald Tribune reported.

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The dispute started in early 2009, when Igor Poksans brought a Honda Accord to J&B for repairs so the car could be resold. Warnke reportedly quoted Poksans $800 for the job, but later called and told Poksans the repairs would cost around $1,200. Poksans said he wanted the car back and didn’t want to proceed with the repairs. Warnke said his crew had already put $300 worth of work into the Honda and refused to release it, according to the newspaper.

Police reported that a months-long feud between the two men ensued, coming to a head in April. Warnke sold the Accord to another person, and Poksans tracked it down and had it towed away. He also filed a civil suit against Warnke, the newspaper reported.

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The day Poksans had the car towed, Warnke reportedly pulled out a file on Poksans showing where he and business associates lived and instructed the two teenaged employees to seek out their homes and set their vehicles on fire.

Around 1 a.m. that night, the two employees, plus a third who wasn’t charged in the case, filled gas cans, tracked down the homes and set the vehicles ablaze. The fire engulfed the garage of Poksans’ business associate, but nobody was injured.

The third employee told police he "wanted no part in the burning," but was talked into it by his co-worker. He admitted to driving the co-worker to one of the homes and hearing a car explode. He’s expected to testify against Warnke and the two other employees, according to the Herald Tribune.

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