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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 24, 2016

South Jersey Couple Sentenced For Conspiring To Set Fire To Historic Diner

CAMDEN, N.J. – Two individuals from Cumberland County, New Jersey, were each sentenced today for planning to destroy a historic diner that they owned in Bridgeton, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Andrew Webster, 50, of Cedarville, New Jersey, was sentenced to 20 months in prison. His wife, Brenda Webster, 46, also of Cedarville, was sentenced to three years of probation, including six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Both defendants previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to separate informations charging them each with one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Judge Kugler imposed both sentences today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In March 2012, Andrew and Brenda Webster purchased and operated Angie’s Bridgeton Grill, a nearly 75-year old diner that was listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places in 2012. 

Soon after they began to operate the diner, the Websters experienced several months of poor financial performance. During their plea hearings, Andrew and Brenda Webster admitted that they agreed to destroy the diner by fire. They also admitted that on Oct. 23, 2012, they traveled to the diner in Andrew’s truck.

According to the charges, in the early morning hours of Oct. 24, 2012, the Websters entered the diner, collected combustible materials (including newspapers, paper menus, and other light-weight combustible materials), doused them with gasoline, and ignited them with an open flame. Brenda Webster suffered burns to her body when gasoline vapors inside the diner ignited. The two quickly exited and within a short period of time, the fire destroyed the diner.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Andrew Webster to serve three years of supervised release. Both defendants are also responsible for restitution of $36,704.49.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky; the Cumberland County Prosecutors Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae; and the Bridgeton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Gaimari, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

Defense counsel:

Andrew Webster: Richard Coughlin Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden

Brenda Webster: Joseph Hoffman III Esq., Turnersville, New Jersey.

Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
16-298
Updated October 24, 2016