|By Anne Jungen, La Crosse Tribune,
Wis.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 28, 2010 --An arson charge filed Wednesday accuses a Black River Falls man of setting multiple fires that destroyed his resort in 2004.
Edward Rosenberg, 49, set the May 28, 2004, blaze at the River Crest Resort intending to defraud his insurance company, according to the criminal complaint filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Rosenberg sued McMillan Warner Mutual Insurance Co. in 2005 after it denied coverage of his property on allegations he set the fire, the complaint stated. They settled in August 2009 for $27,500.
Jackson County prosecutors and Black River Falls Fire Chief Steve Schreiber declined to comment on the case or explain why it took six years to file criminal charges. The statute of limitations for arson is six years.
"This has been a long road," Schreiber said.
The resort's office, personal home and two of three rental cabins were destroyed in the early morning fire. One salvaged cabin smelled of gasoline, and investigators found a burn spot and a wooden matchstick on the carpet near the front door, the complaint stated.
Rosenberg agreed the fire was suspicious but refused to let investigators swab his hands or collect his shoes, according to the complaint. He told authorities he spent the night bowling and had stopped at a gas station to fill his car and bought two gallons of gas for his mother's golf cart and lawn mower. He left the gasoline cans at his property and checked his e-mail, then went to a tavern until it closed, according to the complaint.
Rosenberg is charged with arson of a building with intent to defraud and seven counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, related to the firefighters called to the resort. A court date is set for June 28.
Rosenberg told the Jackson County Chronicle in July 2004 that authorities said he was not an arson suspect.
"Its kind of scary that someone out there would do this," he said.
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