Firefighters Sentenced for Arson Scheme

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Four members of a volunteer fire company were sent to prison Thursday for a scheme to burn down their social hall so that they could afford to build a new one.

Prosecutors said the firehouse was torched in 2002 for $500,000 in insurance money.

Thomas Baker, former assistant chief of the Isabella Fire Department, and Jerry Booker II, former vice president, each got five years for fraud and arson.

Steven Dugan, a third-generation fire chief, was sentenced to nearly three years for fraud and misleading investigators. He was not charged with planning or setting the fires, but federal prosecutors said he tried to cover up the crime.

William A. Robison, who pleaded guilty to fraud for his role in filing false insurance claims, received 2 1/2 years behind bars.

The two blazes destroyed the fire department and a social hall, as well as a vintage fire truck. The first fire apparently did not cause enough damage, so firefighters returned four days later and set another.

Dugan's grandfather founded the department in 1936 after his young daughter died in a fire in the coal country near the West Virginia line, about 35 miles south of Pittsburgh.