Former Tempe constable arrested in arson scheme

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Jonathan Harold Irwin Levenson By Jennifer Thomas Jonathan Harold Irwin Levenson By Jennifer Thomas

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe police arrested a former constable for allegedly conspiring to burn down his home for the insurance money.

Detectives arrested Jonathan Harold Irwin Levenson, 30, Saturday night after a four-month investigation.

Levenson previously served as a Maricopa County constable for the Kyrene Justice Court.

As part of his plan, Levenson was to be out of state when his home was burned and he wanted to time the arson with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, according to Tempe police Sgt. Steve Carbajal.

Levenson allegedly directed other individuals to mark the home with anti-Semitic symbols prior to burning it to give the appearance that the incident was a hate crime.

On May 15, Levenson told Tempe police that an unknown suspect spray-painted "Jew" on his vehicle while it was parked in the 1200 block of West First Street in Tempe. Levenson told the investigating officer that he washed the paint off his car before he realized that he should have taken photographs for the police report, Carbajal said.

Levenson also contacted Tempe police on June 30 to report that his house had been vandalized and that the suspects had painted anti-Semitic symbols on his home.

Detectives believe that the reports may have been a prelude to the arson that Levenson was allegedly planning for October.

In a post-arrest interview, Levenson reportedly admitted to conspiring with others to burn down his home but said that he decided not to go forward with the plan. 

As a former constable, Levenson was in charge of serving protective orders and evictions, among other court duties. His four-year elected term was littered with accusations of negligence.

"He would collect his $61,000 salary, but just not show up for work," said Brandon Schmoll, the constable in Tempe's Kyrene District.

"Jon Levenson's spent years giving the constables a bad name," he continued.

Levenson is currently facing charges of conspiracy to commit arson of an occupied structure, conspiracy to commit fraud schemes and artifices, and false reporting to law enforcement.