CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) - A landlord who has fought a 15-year legal
battle with Carlisle officials over his run-down properties has
been charged with arson and other offenses in the March 2001
torching of three town houses he owned.
Robert L. Barrett and an accomplice, Walter A. Bender, were
being held in Cumberland County Prison after being arraigned by
District Justice Paula Correal.
Police said Barrett and Bender set the blaze in the historic
district properties by using a furnace igniter to detonate milk
jugs filled with gasoline that were placed throughout one of the
houses. A relative of Bender's told investigators he refused an
offer by Bender to set the fire for $5,000, according to court
The fire occurred a day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to
hear Barrett's appeal of a county court order appointing the
Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority to take control of and
repair his properties.
"It was a horrific fire that endangered both the firefighters
and the innocent neighbors," said Cumberland County District
Attorney M.L. "Skip" Ebert.
Barrett, 61, is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail on two
counts of arson, one count of risking a catastrophe and three
counts of criminal conspiracy. If convicted, he could be sentenced
to 57 to 114 years in prison.
Bender, 44, is being held in lieu of $125,000 bail on two counts
of arson, three counts of criminal solicitation, two counts of
criminal conspiracy and one charge of risking a catastrophe. He
could face 77 to 154 years in prison.
Both men are scheduled for preliminary hearings on Aug. 28.
Barrett declined comment on the charges.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press