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Fla. Optometrist Charged in Arsons

March 17, 1999

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (AP) _ A prominent optometrist was accused of hiring people to set fire to several of his homes so he could collect insurance money.

Robert Timothy Carter, 58, was charged Tuesday with racketeering, arson and burning to defraud an insurer.

Two men accused of helping Carter, James Edward Comer, 54, and his son, William, 27, also were charged with arson and burning to defraud. They each were being held Wednesday on $250,000 bond.

Police say Carter collected about $256,000 in insurance payments since 1996. His attorney, Hank Coxe, declined to comment.

Police say an informant told them he was hired in 1996 to burn several duplexes and a two-story beach house owned by Carter. Another informant later said he saw someone pouring a liquid around a mobile home owned by Carter before setting fire to it in June 1997.

Police said Carter collected insurance money in each case.

Barry Abramowitz, a state investigator, declined further comment about the informants.

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