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Arson trial set for Blue Smoke BBQ owner

The owners of Blue Smoke BBQ demolished the building in April 2014 after a fire damaged the building the previous August. (Echo Press file photo)1 / 3
Blue Smoke BBQ put messages on the building after a fire on Aug. 2, 2013. (Echo Press file photo)2 / 3
The interior of Blue Smoke BBQ was badly damaged in a fire on Aug. 2, 2013. (Echo Press file photo)3 / 3

An owner of Blue Smoke BBQ in Alexandria, which was lost in a fire more than three years ago, is scheduled to go on trial on three felony charges related to the fire.

David Galbraith, 27, of Glenwood, entered not guilty pleas in Douglas County District Court on March 9 to first-degree arson, theft by swindle and insurance fraud.

Judge Timothy Churchwell scheduled a jury trial for June 12.

The criminal complaint alleges that in August 2013, Galbraith, the co-owner of Blue Smoke BBQ, paid Derrick Bradley, then-manager of the restaurant, to burn down the building so Galbraith could collect insurance proceeds at a time when the business was financially failing.

The complaint alleges that as a result of the fire, Galbraith collected more than $266,000 in insurance proceeds.

Bradley wasn't charged in the case because he voluntarily came forward with information and cooperated with the investigation, according to County Attorney Chad Larson.

Galbraith was charged in July 2016, nearly three years after the fire.

After Bradley came forward, investigators interviewed former employees of the restaurant and found that the business owed employees, vendors and the state money.

On Nov. 11, 2015, agents from the West Central Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force met with Bradley, gave him an audio recording device and told him to meet with Galbraith to discuss the fire.

Bradley was instructed to tell Galbraith he was concerned about people knowing about the arson and to ask Galbraith who else knew about it. Agents monitored the conversation and Galbraith identified the employees who knew about the payment and the arson.

Records reveal that between Aug. 21, 2013, and April 29, 2014, Secura Insurance paid Blue Smoke BBQ/Galbraith Investments LLC a total of $266,134 for the loss of the restaurant at 403 Third Ave. E.

After his arrest, Galbraith was released from jail on his own recognizance with the conditions that he remain law abiding, not leave the state without written court approval, make future court appearances and maintain contact with his attorney.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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