Ex-York, Pennsylvania Firefighter Gets Prison for Setting Fires

York, PA -- A former volunteer firefighter who claimed an alternate personality named "Samantha" was responsible for setting six Hanover-area fires in 2001 and 2002 was sentenced to 4 to 15 years in state prison yesterday. Justin Yongue, 23, of Hanover has already served three years in York County Prison, for which York County President Judge John H. Chronister gave him credit, defense attorney Kurt Blake said.

He said the decision was fair.

All told, the fires caused more than $1 million in damage and terrorized many in the rural area south of Hanover.

Yongue had been facing "close to 100 years or better" in prison, had the judge run each sentence consecutively, Blake said.

"What Judge Chronister said yesterday was that there were mitigating factors," the attorney said -- basically that Yongue was a good person, but mentally ill.

Yongue was found guilty but mentally ill in 39 of 44 charges by York County Judge Sheryl Ann Dorney during an August non-jury trial. Charges related to a seventh fire -- at Cramer Zeigler Tire Co. in Penn Township -- were dropped midway through trial.

The criminal cases took several years to resolve "because we had extensive (psychological) evaluations and motions and other factors" to wade through, according to Yongue's attorney.

Blake said first deputy district attorney Lori Yost also was "very fair" in dealing with Yongue. She has said her office acknowledged his mental-health issues and wanted him to get help.

"They want him involved in some type of intensive psychological treatment program," he said. "Essentially, for three years he sat in York County Prison and was medicated. Now, he did well on that medication, but he needs ... treatment."

Yongue will first be sent to the Camp Hill state prison for classification, as all state inmates are, then transferred to a state prison able to provide the kind of treatment recommended by doctors.