Long Island Tavern Owner Indicted in Arson-for-hire Scheme
Defendant Ordered Firebombing of Neighboring Business
An indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Central Islip charging a Long Island tavern owner with arson and the use of an explosive device in connection with the destruction of his neighbors’ business. CARMINE GRAZIANO is scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Michael L. Orenstein at the U.S. Courthouse, Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William McMahon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), New York, and James Lawrence, Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department.
As alleged in the indictment and a detention letter filed by the government, in August 2003, GRAZIANO hired an individual to set fire to Roseanne’s Cards Galore, a stationery store in New Hyde Park (Roseanne’s). At the time, GRAZIANO owned and operated Copperfield’s Pub (Copperfield’s), a tavern located next door to Roseanne’s. At approximately 4:30 a.m. on August 11, 2003, in a scene captured on videotape, two individuals approached Roseanne’s, one threw a rock through the front window, and the second individual tossed a Molotov cocktail through the broken window. The fire resulted in the total destruction of the card store and forced the evacuation of several residents of the apartments located directly above Roseanne’s, including a wheelchair-bound individual, who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
As detailed in the government’s detention letter, GRAZIANO ordered the firebombing in retaliation for Roseanne’s complaints to law enforcement and state regulatory authorities of repeated violence and underage drinking at Copperfield’s, which resulted in extra police patrols around Copperfield’s and a temporary suspension of the tavern’s liquor license, and it followed a long series of violent threats by GRAZIANO. .
“The firebombing not only destroyed a business in our community causing economic loss, it also endangered the lives of several of our residents,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. “Thanks to a quick response by emergency personnel and a thorough investigation by local and federal law enforcement, this violent crime was solved and lives were saved.” Ms. Mauskopf thanked the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.
ATF Special Agent-in-Charge McMahon stated, “This is a classic example of an individual’s vengeance getting the better of him. Authorizing the brazen act of firebombing a building is bad enough, but to do so without any thoughts or regards for the lives of the tenants living above the card store and the lives of responding firefighters is pure malice and warrants prosecution to the full extent of the law.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence stated, “Let our collective efforts to bring to justice those that would use these retaliatory measures as a means to intimidate and silence our residents serve to show others that these vengeful acts of destruction will not be tolerated.”
If convicted, GRAZIANO faces a mandatory minimum sentence of thirty-seven years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $1 million fine.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Evan C. Williams.
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