Lake Barrington widow found liable in wrongful death scheme

A Lake County jury Thursday decided the widow of the man who murdered an Arlington Heights man in a scheme to collect on his own life insurance should pay the victim's family $6 million.

Denise Squire, of Lake Barrington, and the estate of her late husband, Ari Squire, were sued by the mother and half-brother of victim Justin Newman.

The plaintiffs contended Denise Squire was liable for the wrongful death of Newman because she conspired with Ari to fake Ari's death, and the murder was the result of that plan, said Elizabeth Mazur, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Frank Testa III and Donna FioRito. "Under Illinois law all co-conspirators are liable," Mazur said.

Lake County authorities say Ari Squire, 40, lured Newman, 20, to his home in February 2008 on the pretext of offering him a construction job. Authorities said he then murdered Newman, switched clothes with him, stuck his own wallet and identification on Newman, set the body on fire and dropped a heavy diesel truck on it.

The coroner had trouble identifying the body, due to damage to the face and fingerprints, but was later able to confirm it through a DNA test.

Meanwhile, FioRito had reported Newman, who lived with her, as missing.

Ari Squire was later found at a Missouri hotel, using Newman's debit card, cell phone and car. He shot himself before police could get in his room.

There was a $5 million life insurance policy on Ari Squire, payable to Denise Squire, Joseph Vaccaro of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Ari's sister, Shana Majmudar. Police believe he wanted the money to start a new life, after having been convicted of Medicare fraud.

At the civil trial, e-mails between Ari Squire and Denise Squire, dated after he supposedly died in the fire, were shown to the jury. Mazur said Denise Squire did not tell police about the e-mails, despite being questioned daily by detectives, until she was informed they would be seizing the Squires' computers. She told police she thought they were automatically generated e-mails her husband had sent before he died, Mazur said.

But the content showed they were current, according to Mazur,

Denise Squire's phone number is unlisted. A message seeking comment has been left with her attorney.

Denise Squire has not been charged criminally. Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said that his department has turned over its findings in its investigation of her to the FBI and federal prosecutors.

On Monday, FioRito and Testa sued Vaccaro in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claiming he conspired with the Squires to fake Ari Squire's death. He was a business partner with Ari. The suit states Ari Squire had run the plan past Vaccaro, and that Ari Squire had told another associate he was going to forward the money to Vaccaro for his own use later.

Justin Newman