Black Hawk man torched B&B
He did it for the insurance money, said the jury. Terrence John Ballowe, 41, was sentenced last Wednesday, July 31, for setting the fire that seriously damaged his bed & Breakfast building, which he owned and operated in a heavily wooded area of Black Hawk. District Judge Jack Berryhill sentenced Ballowe to five years of probation and two years in a jail work release program.
He was also ordered him to complete 480 hours of community service. Judge Berryhill ordered that the entire sentence be served in Gilpin County where the fire was set. The case against Ballowe first went to jury trial in October 2011. That jury could not reach a unanimous verdict and the court declared a mistrial. Prosecutors elected to go forward and try the case again.
In June 2013 a jury found Ballowe guilty of First Degree Arson (F3) and Third Degree Arson (F4).
It began on Jan. 25, 2009, when the Black Hawk Police Department received a 911 call reporting that the Creek Side Bed & Breakfast at 531 Chase Street was fully engulfed in flames. Just 13 minutes earlier, Ballowe had been seen driving away from the building.
Arson investigators from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were called to take the lead in the investigation. The results of the joint investigation of the CBI and Black Hawk Police Department determined that the fire had been intentionally set.
Between April, 2008 and the date of the fire in January 2009, testimony revealed that Ballowe increased the insurance coverage on the property twice. According to testimony at the trial, on the morning of the fire Ballowe had twice called his insurance company to verify his coverage.
Witnesses told the jury that Ballowe had serious financial problems. Business was bad or nonexistent for the Bed & Breakfast. He also had other failing business interests and was delinquent on the mortgages on both the Bed & Breakfast and his home. Jurors also heard that the alarm system at the business had been disabled. They also heard that Ballowe had moved the computer from the Bed & Breakfast to his residence and that he left the power cable plugged into the wall outlet at the Bed & Breakfast.
Prosecutors requested a sentence to the Department of Corrections. “This was a very difficult case,” said District Attorney Peter Weir. “This business was located in a densely wooded area of Gilpin County. The fire danger created by Mr. Ballowe was in addition to the half million dollar loss of the actual property, putting the lives of the firefighters as well as citizens who live in Gilpin County at serious risk. Justice requires that arsonists, particularly those who use arson to commit financial fraud, must be held fully accountable.”
Ballowe remains free on $2,000 bond, pending a hearing on Sept. 25, at which time the judge will consider post-conviction motions.