Yonkers Woman Sentenced in Arson of Orange County Restaurant

A Yonkers woman, Marina Gjurashaj, was sentenced for her part in the arson of Andiamo’s Restaurant in Newburgh, New York, in September 2017.

The trial

A trial began in Orange County almost five years after Zef Gjurashaj of Newburgh and his co-defendant, Marina Gjurashaj of Yonkers, allegedly burned down their restaurant in September 6, 2017. Marina is the wife of Zef’s nephew.

The prosecution argued that the defendants conspired to intentionally set fire to Andiamo’s Restaurant. Which Zef Gjurashaj operated in the fall of 2017. Facing financial troubles, Zef sought to burn the restaurant for insurance purposes. He instructed Marina on how to start the fire and tampered with a propane line in the kitchen. Marina then ignited the fire.

It not only destroyed the building, but also put the lives of first responders and Zef’s wife, who was present at the time, at grave risk. Following the fire, Zef Gjurashaj submitted fraudulent documents to his insurance company, leading to his Insurance Fraud charges.

Additionally, Zef Gjurashaj underreported restaurant income in his tax filings.

A jury convicted 60-year-old Zef Gjurashaj on multiple counts. These counts included Arson in the First Degree, Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Reckless Endangerment, Insurance Fraud, and Tax Fraud.

Marina Gjurashaj plead guilty to lesser charges, including Arson in the Third Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. As part of her plea agreement, Marina Gjurashaj provided crucial testimony against her uncle-in-law during the trial.

The sentencing

In March of 2023, an Orange County judge sentenced Zef Gjurashaj to a total of twenty-two and one-third years (22 1/3) to life in prison.

Marina Gjurashaj received her sentencing on Friday, October 3, 2023. She received a three-year conditional discharge and 600 hours of community service for her role in conspiring to burn down Andiamo’s Restaurant, which was already failing at the time.

Arson for profit is an incredibly challenging crime to prosecute due to its complexity and the perpetrator’s efforts to destroy evidence,” said Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler.

This fire, set solely for financial gain, endangered lives and property. The verdict holds the defendant accountable for these heinous and dangerous acts.

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