BOSTON - A Dorchester man was convicted yesterday in federal court of four counts of arson.
Jose L. Baez, 40, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to four counts of arson. Had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that: on the early morning of Dec. 26, 2008, Baez set fire to the Whole Foods Market located at 200 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge using gasoline and a thirty-foot wick made out of old clothes to ignite the store; on the early morning of April 29, 2009, Baez set fire to Jamaica Plain Auto Body located at 12-18 Rock Hill Road, Jamaica Plain using gasoline, tires and old clothes to start three fires at Jamaica Plain Auto Body; on the early morning hours of July 31, 2009, Baez set fire to the brownstone building located at 21 Bay State Road in the Back Bay section of Boston using gasoline to start the fire in the building’s front vestibule. (The first floor of the brownstone housed a dental practice, while the upper floors contained several residences); and on the early morning of Aug. 9, 2010, Baez set fire to a three-family residence located at 11 Firth Road, Roslindale.
Baez had connections to each of the buildings he set on fire. Baez previously had been employed at the Whole Foods Market in Cambridge and quit over a dispute with management. He had been a customer at Jamaica Plain Auto Body and at the dental practice located at 21 Bay State Road. The prosecutor noted that Baez had disagreements with both establishments. Finally, the prosecutor informed the Court that Baez knew three of the residents living at 11 Firth Road.
Judge Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Nov. 29, 2012. Baez faces a minimum mandatory of seven years and up to 40 years in prison on count one which involved the Firth Road fire, to be followed by five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Baez faces a minimum mandatory of five years and up to 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the remaining three counts.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Boston Field Division; Colonel Timothy Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Boston Fire Department Superintendent Roderick Fraser; and Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David G. Tobin and Robert Richardson of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.