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Brothers sentenced in fire that badly damaged stores, homes

June 24, 2021 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two brothers have each been sentenced to nine years in prison for setting fire to their hookah lounge in Philadelphia as they struggled with business losses, causing more than $20 million in damages to a retail block in the city’s historic area.

Imad Dawara, 40, of Swarthmore, and Bahaa Dawara, 32, of Woodlyn, received their sentences this week, federal prosecutors said Thursday. They had pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The February 2018 fire burned for nine hours and left the block of restaurants, retail stores and apartments in Old City shuttered for months. Approximately 160 people were displaced, and a few of the businesses never reopened.

Besides their prison terms, the Dawaras — who used gasoline to start the blaze — must also pay $22 million in restitution. Authorities have said the pair took out $750,000 in insurance weeks before the blaze.