Man Sets Himself on Fire Over Collections

A man upset by late payment notices set himself on fire in a New Jersey
Rent-A-Center, police said.

Emilio Saladriagas is in critical condition
in the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center after torching himself on
Tuesday at the Bloomfield, N.J. store, which allows customers to rent furniture,
electronics and other goods with the option of buying them.

"He basically pulled out a bottle of lighter
fluid, poured it all over his body, pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit
himself on fire," Bloomfield Police Capt. Chris Goul told the Star-Ledger of
Newark, N.J.

Officials said the man, 62, reportedly went
to the store to meet with the manager at around 1 p.m., but he was told he
wasn’t available, the Newark resident set himself on fire.

Police said that he will not be charged with a crime because store
surveillance appeared to show he intended to hurt no one but himself. "We don’t
know if he had mental health issues or what sparked it," Bloomfield, N.J.,
Police Capt. Chris Goul told The Star-Ledger. "Employees said he’d always been a
nice man."

Rent-A-Center has been accused in the past of unfair business practices
concerning its credit granting and collection tactics. In 2006, the state of
California reached a $7.75 million settlement with the company for what
regulators said was a failure to "disclose the true cost of its rent-to-own
program."

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