HUDSON — Recordings of police interviews with the Stockport man who allegedly hired another Columbia County man to burn down his home for the insurance were played for the jury Friday.
Barry Goldstein, 76, was questioned at least twice by Columbia County Sheriff’s investigators before his arrest. The recordings were played as investigator Reagan Anderson took the stand for the prosecution Thursday on the fifth day of the arson trial.
Goldstein was charged Nov. 14, 2018 with first-degree insurance fraud, a class B felony; third-degree arson, a class C felony; and first-degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony.
During his two interviews with investigators before his arrest, Goldstein denied hiring William Travis, the 33-year-old Stuyvesant Falls man who did chores for Goldstein at his home, to burn down the house. Initially, investigators asked Goldstein to come to the sheriff’s office at 85 Industrial Tract to give a statement that he never gave Travis permission to go into his house at 290 County Route 25 the day of the fire. Travis testified Wednesday that Goldstein, days before the fire, showed him how to spread the accelerant, denatured alcohol, on the third floor of his home. Goldstein disabled the burglar alarm and then drove to New Jersey the day of the fire to give himself an alibi, Travis said.
“I had no idea he [Travis] was going to burn my house,” Goldstein repeated to investigators on a recording of the interview.
But those statements to police contradicted others made by Goldstein on a police-monitored phone call between Travis and Goldstein in the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office parking lot days earlier.
In the call, Travis tells Goldstein he burned down the house but added that he would be talking to police.
Goldstein, according to Columbia County Sheriff’ Investigator Patrick Logue, responded to Travis by saying, “You caved. You’re weak.”
Travis had previously testified that Goldstein was like a grandfather to him. Goldstein, in the controlled call, allegedly coached Travis, telling him not to talk to the police.
In the call with Travis, Goldstein allegedly said, “The police don’t have anything. They don’t even have the [license] plate [number],” according to Logue.
Police believe Goldstein was referring to the pickup truck that Travis allegedly rode to Goldstein’s house before setting the fire on Oct. 1, 2017. The pickup belonged to a neighbor who drove Travis to and from the scene.
Goldstein continued to deny prior knowledge of the alleged crime, and even shared thoughts of suicide with the investigators.
“I just don’t want to live anymore,” Goldstein said to Logue at one point.
Investigators asked Goldstein why he didn’t cancel his inflated $1 million insurance claim after Travis told him what he had done.
“Genuinely, I lost all of that stuff,” Goldstein said, according to the tape recording.
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