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Press Release

Buffalo man charged with allegedly starting fire on railroad tracks in Farnham

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Michael B. Benitez, 33, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with arson of property used in interstate commerce. The charge carries carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum of 20 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in the early morning hours of June 14, 2023, the Village of Farnham Fire Department responded to a fire on railroad tracks just west of the Railroad Avenue grade crossing in Farnham. While the fire department responded, trains were being held until the fire, the source of which was several tires burning, could be extinguished. Subsequent investigation by the Norfolk Southern Police Department revealed freshly trampled grass and a path directly adjacent from the tracks to the nearby residence of Benitez. Video obtained during the investigation appears to show Benitez leaving and returning to the residence during the time of the fire.

Benitez made an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroder, Jr. and was released on conditions.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia, the Town of Brandt Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Slawek, and Norfolk Southern Police Department.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Barbara Burns


Updated December 15, 2023