Longform

State Farm Tried to Nail Its Customers for Arson, but the Bad Guys Were Firefighters

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The Johnsons contend that the company tried to intimidate and ruin them financially with the countersuit, while knowing it owed the couple tens of thousands of dollars in personal-property claims.

"They're not a good neighbor," Betty Johnson says.


Onetime arson suspect Chris Bishop got his job back at Phoenix Fire after his acquittal and worked there until last April.

Then, on April 7, the divorced father of three stepped into his garage and hanged himself. In a long suicide note, Bishop took pains not to blame his agency, or anybody else, for his demise.

As for Robert Brewster, his reborn career at Peoria Fire seems to be going well.

The big guy does a good Santa Claus: A 2009 city newsletter described him as having "a jolly good time handing out candy canes and posing for holiday photographs on the picture-perfect December morning."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin