Arson

Former firefighter gets six months for arson

By Eric Gross

Staff Reporter   *The following article, from the August 10, 2000 edition of the Putnam County (New York) Courier

CARMEL – “I don’t know why I did what I did. I want to apologize to everyone. I’m truly sorry,” said Daniel Lounsbury Tuesday afternoon in Putnam County Court,

moments before County Judge Robert Miller sentenced the former firefighter to six months in jail for setting a fire last winter.

The 33-year-old Carmel resident pleaded guilty May 23 to arson in conjunction with his setting an early morning blaze on Feb. 29 at the Bubble-n-Suds Laundromat in Carmel.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Charbonneau, who prosecuted the case, said Mr. Lounsbury had faced up to three years in state prison.

Before more than a dozen firefighters who crowded into the Putnam County Courthouse along with members of the Lounsbury family and close friends, Mr. Lounsbury, holding back tears, apologized, telling the court, “I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I’ve lived in this town for 33 years.”

Defense counsel Robert Leader told the court that his client was “remorseful and embarrassed. He is in counseling and I ask that the court sentence Mr. Lounsbury to shock probation and four and a half years probation.”

Judge Miller called the case “most disturbing and distressing. For a firefighter to set a fire is very upsetting.”

The judge admonished Mr. Lounsbury. “This case has brought shame on you and your fine family. You’ve lost your job. Your marriage is in shambles,” he said.

But Judge Miller said Mr. Lounsbury had always been a “law abiding person. The fire department has been an obsession for you. Your father and grandfather both served the volunteer fire service with great pride and distinction.”

The judge told the defendant standing in front of him, who was wearing a gray double breasted suit, a white shirt and fashionable tie, “My initial reaction was to send you to state prison for from one to three years. However, I’ve received over 40 letters from people who really care about you and are concerned about your welfare. The Probation Department pre-sentencing report also indicates your remorse and sadness over this act.”

Judge Miller then sentenced Mr. Lounsbury to six months in the county jail and to probation warning him, “If you violate this sentence, you will be sent to state prison for the remainder of your probationary term.”

As a correction officer placed handcuffs on Mr. Lounsbury and led him from the courtroom, Mr. Charbonneau said the sentence was just. “Given the potential for tragedy and the nature of the crime for which he was arrested, Judge Miller did an exceptional job weighing the needs of the community while weighing the needs of this young man who needs counseling and help hat will allow him to become a productive member of our community.”

The blaze at the Laundromat was quickly extinguished with little damage reported. Carmel police said the defendant was videotaped entering the laundry at 1 a.m. Detectives said minutes later, the Laundromat, which is located behind the Reed Memorial Library and several apartments, caught fire.

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