The son of the former owner of the historic Olney Inn has been indicted on charges of setting the March 29 fire that virtually destroyed the Montgomery County restaurant.
A county grand jury late Thursday indicted Michael Gordon Simms, of 21135 New Hampshire Ave, Brookeville, on arson charges, according to Deputy State's Attorney Timothy Clarke.
The fire, which caused about $500,000 damage to the building and its antique contents, occured on the day when then-owner Harry Simms was scheduled to sign the contract selling the inn to a Washington real estate developer.
The developer, Rober N. Wolpe, reportedly planned to make the inn part of a new shopping arcade. But news of the devastating fire halted settlement proceedings that would have closed the $1.25 million deal.
The sale was never completted but, according to several sources, a construction company has since acquired the property.
Clarke said the Montgomery County investigation is continuing.
Wolpe said he held insurance on the property and a claim was filed because of the fire. "The claim was settled amicably with the insurance company," Wolpe said, but refused to say if his company received any settlement.
Under a provision of Wolpe's sale contract with Simms, the buyer took over the risk of losses at midnight on the date of the projected settlement, according to Wolpe. That is why he held the insurance on the property on March 29 before the settlement papers were signed, he said.
Simms has not yet been arrested, according to Clarke.