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Firefighter guilty of arson

As a member of the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, Jerome Engle's responsibility was straightforward enough: to fight fires.

Tuesday, Engle admitted that he violated the trust the community put in him when he intentionally set a fire in a vacant house in Riverdale more than two years ago.

Engle. (Pr. George’s State’s Attorney’s Office )

Engle, 46, of Bowie, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree arson in connection with the fire, which he set on March 17, 2008, in a house at 5413 Riverdale Road.
According to prosecutors, Engle, while on duty, slipped into the vacant home and set a sofa on fire using a signal flare.

Engle returned minutes later to help extinguish the fire. No one was injured in the incident, authorities said.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Engle could be sentenced to to 10 years in prison, Prince George’s County prosecutors said. Prosecutors said they would seek restitution of $200,000 from Engle on behalf of the owners of the home that was set ablaze.

“We expect our firefighters to battle blazes not burn buildings,” said State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey. “Mr. Engle not only violated the public trust, but also put property and people at risk. We are holding him accountable with today’s conviction.”

Engle is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1.

His co-defendant, James R. Martinez, who was also a volunteer Riverdale firefighter, is scheduled to go on trial on July 22.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Washington Post editors  |  June 22, 2010; 4:42 PM ET
Categories:  Fires & Fire Safety , From the Courthouse , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda  
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