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St. Cloud man accused of burning down his own bar facing federal charges

Andrew Welsh is the owner of the Press Bar, which burned down in February.
Author:
Andy Welsh

The owner of St. Cloud's famous Press Bar is now facing federal charges for allegedly burning down his business in February.

Andrew Welsh, 41, was indicted on federal arson charges, as well as wire fraud, and using a fire to commit a federal felony.

Welsh had been arrested on state-level charges in March, but was re-arrested on the federal charges Friday.

The charges allege he bought a $1.35 million business owner's insurance policy for the business, and then used lighter fluid to start a fire in the basement.

This fire spread and ultimately destroyed the entire building.

A week after the Feb. 17 fire, Welsh retained a public insurance adjuster to assist in the preparation of insurance claims for the fire, and two days later claimed he was entitled to payment to the tune of $1.43 million for property damage and other related losses.

An investigation however has previously alleged that Welsh was the last person to leave the bar on the night of the fire – having initially told authorities he had left with an employee – and police found lighter fuel in his vehicle.

That, coupled with the insurance policy and the $500,000 he still owed on the contract for deed for the business he bought with his wife in 2006, left police to believe there was a financial motive behind the fire.

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