The man convicted for setting a warehouse fire that killed four firefighters 18 years ago has been caught trying to steal the identities of firefighters, police officers, and witnesses involved in his case, according to the Seattle Police Department.
Martin Pang set the fire at Mary Pang frozen food warehouse burned in 1995. While fighting the fire, Seattle firefighters Walter Kilgore, Gregory Shoemaker, James Brown and Randy Terlicker plunged to their deaths when the floor collapsed.
In March, the Washington State Department of Corrections learned Pang and a man outside of prison planned to set up credit accounts in the names of firefighters and others, then send the money to off-shore bank accounts.
They also intended to take money from the Tulalip Casino, where Pang's co-conspirator had previously worked.
“Pang saw this as an opportunity to make a ton of money, so he had a nest egg when he got out of prison,” says SPD MCTF detective Todd Jakobsen, who assisted in investigating the case.
An undercover detective was able to connect with the pair before Pang and his partner, Charles McClain, could put their plan into action.
Authorities arrested McClain. While searching Pang's cell, they also found evidence including social security numbers of witnesses and the personal information of firefighters in Pang's case.
DOC officers partnered with SPD's Major Crimes Task Force, the FBI, Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force on the case, which has been forwarded to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Offce for charges.
Pang’s attorney, Jeff Ellis, who recently went to court to try and unwind Pang’s guilty plea, confirmed the new allegations during a phone interview. “Yes, there is an investigation going on,” Ellis said. He confirmed that the “allegations involved identity theft,” but would not say who the alleged victims were.
This come just a few months after Pang’s attorney went to court to see if he could get the guilty plea unwound. In November 2012, Ellis said Pang’s confession was coerced and prosecutors were hiding documents that indicated Pang was in California when the warehouse was torched.
Early in the case, prosecutors believed Pang was in California at the time of the fire, but later their theory changed, after Pang wrote that he’d flown from L.A. to Seattle, set the fire, and then flown back to California to establish an alibi.
Ian Goodhew, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said that Pang is one hundred percent guilty of setting the fatal fire. The judge denied Pang’s request to re-open the case.
In 1995, police quickly suspected that Pang, the son of the warehouse owners, had set the fire. But before they could arrest him, Pang fled to Brazil.
Pang was captured and jailed in Rio de Janeiro, but fought extradition, claiming that he was a scapegoat for an angry community demanding justice.
"If they have someone to put on the frying pan, then it doesn't become a senseless death," Pang told KING 5 in a jailhouse interview in Rio de Janeiro in May 1995.
But Pang later confessed that he'd done it---he'd torched the warehouse for the insurance money because his family's once thriving business was faltering.
In February 1998, Pang struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to four counts of manslaughter to avoid a possible life sentence if the case went to trial. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Under the laws at the time, prisoners who behave while serving their sentence are eligible for a 33 percent reduction in their sentence and Pang could lose time he has accumulated. The Department of Corrections confirmed Pang’s current release date is November 2018.