Camp Fire survivor who lost home in deadly blaze bilked of thousands of dollars, police say

2019-11-06 09:44:10

A woman accused of embezzling more than $60,000 from a survivor of the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history faces arraignment Thursday.

Brenda Rose Asbury, 29, faces charges of for elder abuse, embezzlement, and grand theft. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation began July 30 after authorities heard claims that Asbury had embezzled $63,100 from the insurance settlement from a 75-year-old survivor whose home was destroyed in the Camp Fire.

The fire, which ignited in Butte County almost exactly one year ago, killed more than 80 people, destroyed more than 10,000 homes and laid to waste the town of Paradise. 

Detectives had been looking for Asbury since obtaining an arrest warrant in September.  They finally determined she was living in Tulsa, and Oklahoma joined the search. Last week, detectives told an attorney Asbury retained that she needed to contact law enforcement immediately, the sheriff’s office said.

Asbury turned herself in Tuesday, telling authorities she spent the past three days driving from Oklahoma.

The Camp Fire began Nov. 8 and burned for 17 days through 240 square miles of Butte County in Northern California. Cal Fire lists the death toll at 85 and homes, businesses and other structures destroyed at 18,804.

Investigators determined the cause of the blaze was a faulty transmission line owned by Pacific Gas & Electric. The utility later filed for bankruptcy, billions in liabilities from the Camp Fire and other wildfires in Northern and Central California.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Camp Fire: Brenda Asbury stole victim’s insurance money, police say

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