FIRE CAPTAIN JAILED FOR CONSPIRING TO SET FIRES
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that George Allen, age 30, of Wallingford, Vermont, former Captain of the Wallingford Volunteer Fire Department, was sentenced to 13 months in jail yesterday by Chief Judge Christina Reiss, of the United States District Court in Rutland, Vermont. Allen was found guilty after a jury trial last July of conspiring with younger members of the fire department to set a series of outdoor fires in Wallingford in early 2008. Because several of the fires were in the Green Mountain National Forest, owned by United States, the arsons were charged in federal court.
At the July trial the jury determined that Captain Allen conspired with several teenaged members of the fire department to start the fires. The motive was the excitement of responding to a fire with the fire department, and the boredom of being on a department with few fire calls. After the younger firemen set fires and called 911, Captain Allen and the Wallingford Fire Department responded to extinguish them.
At sentencing yesterday, Chief Judge Reiss found that the offense was Aoutrageous@ and Adangerous,@ entailing risks of injury to both firefighters and the public, as emergency vehicles traveled the roads. Current Wallingford Fire Chief Stephane Goulet made a statement to the Court regarding the adverse impact of the offense on the department=s personnel, finances, equipment, and reputation.
Allen, represented by attorney Mark Furlan of Rutland, asked for a probationary sentence, urging that no-one had been hurt. The United States, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Darrow, asked for a term of imprisonment of at least 15 months. The Court imposed a sentence of 13 months, to begin in January, and also ordered Allen to serve two years of supervised release, perform 75 hours of community service, and pay a $100 assessment.
The U.S. Attorney=s Office credited the Vermont State Police Arson Unit, and the U.S. Forest Service with the investigation, and thanked the Wallingford Fire Department for its cooperation.