Saratoga Winners owner faces probe

Colonie police arrested the owner of Saratoga Winners last week, charging him with third degree arson, insurance fraud and falsifying business records for allegedly setting his own establishment on fire to collect insurance money.

Akiva D. Abraham, 43, of Rexford, is the owner of Saratoga Winners, a Colonie nightclub that, in the past, has served as a popular concert venue for many now-famous performers. Abraham was arrested Friday, May 15, at his residence after police concluded their investigation of the Thursday, April 30, fire that destroyed the building, located at 1375 Loudon Road.

The investigation was done by the Colonie Police Department, Colonie Fire Services, the New York State Police, the Albany County District Attorney's Office, the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Albany County Fire Coordinator and the New York State Insurance Department.

According to Chief of Colonie Fire Services Peter Lattanzio, the building had consumed itself in a short amount of time, after the fire broke out at about 3:13 a.m.

"It collapsed down within a half hour or 45 minutes of the fire being discovered," he said.

Lattanzio said that by the time the Boght Fire District responded to the fire, the fire chief found the building "heavily involved in fire." The fire department had to use tankers from Southern Saratoga fire departments because there were no hydrants available on the scene. Lattanzio could not estimate how much water was used to put out the fire.

Lattanzio said that the building has been around since the early 1900s.

"It's had a variety of uses," he said. "It was a potato chip factory, it was a dance hall, then it was converted to a bar."

As a bar, Lattanzio said the venue was used to hold rock band concerts, but for the past several years has been vacant.

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