Prosecutor: Parsippany Firefighter Allegedly Used 'Incendiary Devices' in Two Arsons
County officials not releasing identity of youth who allegedly helped start one fire.
Two fires allegedly started by Parsippany firefighter and Morris County Sheriff's Officer Jason Campbell were set with "incendiary devices,'' Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi announced in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The first blaze on Old Bloomfield Avenue, in an detached garage owned by Montville resident Demetri Mikelis, was ignited in September 2008. The second fire, in June of last year, occurred at a vacant home on Ute Avenue, owned by Mike Gutkin, of Denville, according to police reports on both incidents.
The prosecutor said authorities are still investigating if Campbell was involved in any other fires. Bianchi said that around the time both fires were set "there seemed to be an increase in fire-related activity'' in the township.
Bianchi gave no details on the identity of Campbell's alleged accomplice, a participant in the Morris County Sheriff Office's Explorer Program for youth interested in law enforcement.
The prosecutor said Campbell, who was a supervisor of the program at the time, used one of the explorers to help ignite the Old Bloomfield Avenue fire.
Bianchi wouldn't reveal the age or name of the youth, citing the person as "a confidential source.''
"He's alleged to have influence on the mind of an individual and sullied the reputation of a program that's helping people,'' Bianchi said.
Campbell was charged Tuesday—his 33rd birthday—with two counts of second-degree aggravated arson, one count of third-degree burglary, four counts of second-degree official misconduct, one count of second-degree attempted aggravated arson and two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated arson.
No one was injured in either blaze, although several neighboring residents were evacuated in the 2008 fire. Campbell, who was acting fire chief of Fire District No. 5 at the time of each of the blazes, was among the firefighters who responded to both fires.
On the night of the 2010 fire, a neighbor told police that two men in T-shirts who had not been seen in the area before were spotted before the fire outside the property, which had been empty for several months, according to the Parsippany Police report.
Bianchi wouldn't speculate on a motive for the alleged crimes.
Bianchi urged anyone with knowledge about other crimes allegedly committed by Campbell, or "inappropriate behavior,'' to come forward to help officials with their investigation.