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Fairfax City bar owner convicted of arson

Tom Jackman

One of the owners of Bridges Billiards and Grill in Fairfax City was convicted by a federal court jury Wednesday of setting fire to the Main Street bar after a Halloween night party last year.

Ajmal A. Aman, 29, of Herndon, was one of six owners of Bridges, court records showed, and served as the company's treasurer. After the bar closed at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, a fire broke out at 3:30 a.m.

Fairfax City fire marshals quickly suspected arson due to the smell of ignitable liquid, and Aman, whose clothes had the same odor, admitted he was the only person there when the fire occurred.

Gasoline was found throughout the burned bar, and lab tests showed that Aman's clothes had gas on them.

Federal prosecutors said Aman was suspected of stealing money from the business for personal travel and repayment of debts, and that Bridges faced heavy competition from other bars.

Aman faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum of 20 years, when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III on Jan. 14.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  | October 27, 2010; 5:19 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax, Fires & Fire Safety, From the Courthouse, Tom Jackman, Updates  
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Comments

You gotta love that pro-business climate in Virginia!
All the taxbreaks in the world won't stop the need for a fire sale once in a while.

Posted by: MarilynManson | October 28, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Go to http://truthinjustice.org/arson.htm if you want to know the truth.

He is a victim of bad science by untrained “experts” whose testimony puts innocent people behind bars. This poor kid has never done anything wrong in his life and now he is going to Federal prison.

There was a fire in the small office at the back of the restaurant. The office was loaded with electrical equipment. As soon as he discovered the fire, he ran across the street to the fire department to alert them. The fire was put out minutes later.

There were 3 fire marshals. One said his clothes smelled like lighter fluid, the other said gasoline, and the third said it didn't smell like any ignitable fluid at all.

There was no reasonable motive for him to start the fire. There is a new bar opening down the street - time to burn our place down! No. Using company money to take a trip? Doesn't make sense. Use company money to pay back a company loan for renovations? That's not stealing and doesn't make sense.

Bridges was a successful business and had 6 different owners. He didn’t stand to gain any significant amount of money with a fire.

"There are 500,000 structure fires a year; 75,000 of them are labeled suspicious. John Lentini, who has campaigned widely to improve investigator’s knowledge, says most experts he talks with believe the accuracy of fire investigators is at best 80% — meaning as many as 15,000 mistaken investigations each year, and who knows how many convictions."

Posted by: magical9812 | November 1, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Go to http://truthinjustice.org/arson.htm if you want to know the truth.

He is a victim of bad science by untrained “experts” whose testimony puts innocent people behind bars. This poor kid has never done anything wrong in his life and now he is going to Federal prison.

There was a fire in the small office at the back of the restaurant. The office was loaded with electrical equipment. As soon as he discovered the fire, he ran across the street to the fire department to alert them. The fire was put out minutes later.

There were 3 fire marshals. One said his clothes smelled like lighter fluid, the other said gasoline, and the third said it didn't smell like any ignitable fluid at all.

There was no reasonable motive for him to start the fire. There is a new bar opening down the street - time to burn our place down! No. Using company money to take a trip? Doesn't make sense. Use company money to pay back a company loan for renovations? That's not stealing and doesn't make sense.

Bridges was a successful business and had 6 different owners. He didn’t stand to gain any significant amount of money with a fire.

"There are 500,000 structure fires a year; 75,000 of them are labeled suspicious. John Lentini, who has campaigned widely to improve investigator’s knowledge, says most experts he talks with believe the accuracy of fire investigators is at best 80% — meaning as many as 15,000 mistaken investigations each year, and who knows how many convictions."

Check out http://truthinjustice.org/arson.htm

Posted by: magical9812 | November 1, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Todd Willingham - Executed for an Accidental Fire
Strapped to a gurney in Texas' death chamber in February, 2004, just moments from his execution for setting a fire that killed his three daughters, Cameron Todd Willingham declared his innocence one last time. " I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit," Willingham said angrily. "I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do." Four fire cause and origin experts -- Gerald Hurst, John Lentini, John DeHaan and Kendall Ryland -- agree. "There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire," said Hurst, a Cambridge University-educated chemist who has investigated scores of fires in his career. "It was just a fire."

Curtis Severns
Curtis Severns has been in federal prison since 2006. Convicted of intentionally starting the fire in his gun shop, he has 25 more years on his sentence. Severns has maintained his innocence all along. As in many arson cases, he was convicted almost exclusively by the testimony of fire investigators who relied on assumptions that some of the leading arson experts in the country now say are false. In fact, new evidence and a Texas Observer investigation reveal that Severns remains in federal prison in Beaumont for a crime he didn’t commit.

Toledo, Ohio Area Restaurateur Acquitted of Arson
Former restaurant owner Charles Bryan, Jr. was charged with arson and insurance fraud for a fire that destroyed his and 7 other businesses in Wauseon, Ohio in 2007. The charges were based not on science, not on physical evidence, but on nothing more than speculation that he might financially gain from the fire. Judge Charles Wittenberg ruled that the state failed to prove that Mr. Bryan had financial problems. (Of course, the cost of defending himself has probably bankrupted him.)

Rose Kate Roseborough
On April 23, 2003, Rose was sleeping on the sofa in her living room in Ashland, Ohio when she awoke to find a fire on the home's second floor. She tried to rescue her 11-month-old twin daughters, Lucie and Julia, but was driven back by the heavy smoke. The children died of smoke inhalation. Rose was charged with arson and 2 counts of murder, and the death penalty was sought. The key evidence offered at trial was the "expert" testimony of EMT Kevin Rosser, who claimed that he noticed "large particle soot" on Rose's face at the fire scene. Holding himself out as a fire expert, Rosser opined that such soot is only produced in the early stages of a fire, meaning Rose set the fire herself. The presiding judge refused to conduct a Daubert hearing on the scientific validity of EMT Rosser's testimony. Rose was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Fortunately, Judge James D. Sweeney recognized junk science proffered by an unqualified witness. On April 23, 2010, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Sweeney's reversal of Kate's conviction.

http://truthinjustice.org/arson.htm

Posted by: magical9812 | November 2, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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