Gladstone woman convicted in arson-for-hire scheme
A 70-year-old Gladstone woman was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday after allegedly hiring an undercover officer to burn down a commercial building in Kansas City, according to federal prosecutors.
Mia Lee Jamison was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to three years in federal prison without parole, followed by three years of supervised release.
Secret encounters with an arsonist
Jamison, who owned Mia Plaza near the corner of 39th Street and Bell Street, previously admitted to hiring an undercover officer from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to commit arson. She met the officer at her home several times in April 2019, offering to give her $150,000 to burn down her building, which then housed three businesses.
Bob Wasabi Kitchen, 39th World of Spirits and Sahara Sheesha Lounge all operated out of Jamison’s building.
Federal investigators recorded audio and video of the encounters between Jamison and the officer, prosecutors say.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jamison told the officer that she would lose ownership of the building in a civil lawsuit and that it was to be burned down by April 29, 2019. She allegedly told the agent that she had $1.5 million. insurance policy on the building, though prosecutors say the policy was actually worth $2 million.
The 70-year-old then handed the officer $3,500 bond and told him she wanted the fire to look like it was accidental. The agent undertook to set the fire between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. to limit potential nuisance to tenants.
On April 28, 2019, Jamison and the officer met once again and she told him that she had removed all surveillance cameras around the building in preparation for the event.
Then, at 4 a.m. the next morning, investigators met Jamison at her home. When asked if she burned down the building or hired someone to do so, she denied the allegations. After the confrontation, Jamison learned that her apartment building had not been burned down and she was arrested.
On June 2, 2022, Jamison pleaded guilty to two counts: soliciting a crime of violence and making a false statement to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators.
“This building was his baby”
In an earlier interview with The Star, Jamison’s ex-husband, attorney Kevin L. Jamison, said the idea of Jamison paying someone to burn down his building seems unexpected.
“This building was his baby,” Kevin Jamison said. “It surprised me a bit; it was like setting your child on fire. This thing was the start of his business venture in America.
Jamison moved from Korea to the United States when she and Kevin Jamison married in 1977. Proceeds from the store helped Kevin Jamison continue his law studies.
Jamison bought World of Spirits in 1981 and quickly made it a success by catering to a clientele that included young doctors from the nearby medical center.
The building caught fire in 1990 and left eight people homeless. Kevin Jamison said the fire was caused by a man in one of the buildings who was making dentures and drawing too much electricity through a set of electrical wires. The building was insured.
Kevin and Mia Jamison were married about 20 years before the couple divorced in 1996, Kevin Jamison has said.
“She was (a) hell of a businesswoman,” he said. “But his mental state may explain the deterioration of his activities.”
The Star’s Glenn E. Rice and Luke Nozicka contributed reporting for this story.
This story was originally published November 15, 2022 5:24 p.m.