DETROIT LAKES -- An Elk River man accused of setting the fire to The Refuge Christian Outreach Center in Detroit Lakes in 2018 told investigators that it was an inside job to collect the insurance money, according to a criminal complaint filed in Becker County District Court.
Gary John Bogatz, 40, has been charged with first-degree arson, insurance fraud and second-degree burglary, according to a news release from the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Fraud Bureau.
According to the criminal complaint, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division determined that the Sept. 22 fire, which caused more than $350,000 in damage, had been set intentionally. Analysis of a fingerprint found on a door handle matched Bogatz.
Investigators interviewed Bogatz in April 2020. Bogatz said he was asked by a board member of The Refuge and another individual with connections to The Refuge to start the fire, according to the criminal complaint. Neither person was named in the news release. Bogatz told investigators that the individuals told him they have “a lot of fire insurance” on the building, and he was instructed to make it look like a burglary and burn the place down.
Anyone with information should call the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 800-723-2020 or the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau at 888-372-8366.