In May of last year Jerry Engle told me he did not set fire to the vacant house at 5413 Riverdale Road on March 17, 2008, but instead blamed it on other firefighters Engle had turned in to Prince George’s County fire investigators. My guess is that those familiar with the long saga of Mr. Engle won’t be surprised to learn that Jerry didn’t tell me the truth that day (I know I am not surprised).
This morning the 46-year-old Engle entered a guilty plea on second-degree arson. Besides his time at Riverdale VFD (when the fire occurred), Engle had previously been a long-time member of Kentland VFD. After leaving Riverdale he ran with both Bladensburg and Riverdale Heights.
Co-defendant James Martinez, who was also a Riverdale volunteer and a career firefighter in Montgomery County, is scheduled for trial in a month.
Rather than tell the whole story of Jerry Engle again (even I get tired of that stuff) you can listen to the interview (sorry, only Part 1 is available online) and follow the links to the extensive file available on STATter911.com.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, Glenn F. Ivey announced today that volunteer firefighter, Jerome Engle, 46, of Bowie, pleaded guilty to second degree arson in connection with setting fire to a building located at 5413 Riverdale Road, Riverdale, MD on March 17, 2008.
Mr. Engle was a firefighter with the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department.
As part of the plea agreement Engle faces up to 10 years in prison but could receive the guideline recommendation from the sentencing commission of 1 year in jail. The State’s Attorney will seek $200,000 restitution from Mr. Engle on behalf of the property owners.
“We expect our firefighters to battle blazes not burn buildings. Mr. Engle not only violated the public trust but also put property and people at risk. We are holding him accountable with today’s conviction,” said Glenn F. Ivey.
A sentencing and restitution hearing is set for July 1, 2010 in front of Judge Graydon McKee who oversaw today’s proceedings.
The co-defendant in the case James R. Martinez of Damascus is set for trial on July 22.
Investigation of this and similar incidents is on-going; anyone with information should contact the Prince George’s County Fire Department at 301-77ARSON.
Statement from Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Chief Eugene Jones:
“As the Fire Chief of this Department, I fully support the work of the States Attorney’s Office in reaching a guilty plea in this case of arson. I commend their staff as well as the Fire/EMS Department’s Fire Investigators for their due diligence in compiling evidence and building the case. I also want to acknowledge the volunteer leadership of the Riverdale Fire/EMS Station for their support and cooperation during this difficult period.
To the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County; this heinous act is a result of the actions of individuals and should not be a systemic assessment of our Department. Our combination, volunteer and career, Fire/EMS Department strives to provide the very best in fire and emergency medical services possible and are dedicated and committed to keeping our County safe from the perils of all hazards.
One person has been deemed guilty for his actions and a second person is soon to have his day in court.“