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Bartenders' fire charges dismissed

Three felony burning charges filed against two fire-breathing Herndon bartenders will be dismissed, the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney said Wednesday, but misdemeanor charges will stand.

Fairfax fire marshals in Jimmy's Old Town Tavern on Elden Street on July 24 witnessed bartenders Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas, performing fire-breathing tricks.

The marshals then arrested the men and charged them with manufacturing and using an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning or destroying a meeting house, as well as three fire code misdemeanors.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said he spotted the charges in a random review of cases coming through his office, and asked for more information. He said two of the charges -- the setting a fire and burning a meeting house counts -- required the bartenders to have malicious intent, which he didn't believe existed, and that the manufacturing charge did not rise to the level of a felony.

Though some elected officials had said they planned to protest the arrest of the bartenders, Morrogh said he did not hear from anyone before deciding to throw out the felony counts.

The fire marshals felt they had probable cause to arrest the men, he said, and "this was a pretty dangerous thing to be doing, especially in a structure that old. But I have to compare the facts with the law, and I'm not allowed to maintain a case that's not supported by the evidence."

Morrogh's decision was first reported by the Fairfax County Times.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  August 25, 2010; 5:23 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Fires & Fire Safety , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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