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Compton, CA Deputy Chief Marcel Melanson, who starred in reality series, jailed for arson. Police say fire covered up theft of city radio equipment.

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Do you recall Marcel Melanson? The heavily tattooed Compton Fire Department deputy chief was the star of his own reality series on BET called “First In”. We first mentioned him in October 2009, as did Firegeezer.com and Fire Critic.com. He was also featured in a Los Angeles Times profile. The Fire Critic even wrote about Melanson’s profile in Inked Magazine. Now Melanson is a former deputy chief and is in jail.

Samantha Tate, KNBC-TV:

A Compton firefighter is expected to appear in court Friday to face charges he allegedly set his fire department’s headquarters ablaze in an effort to destroy evidence of his suspected theft.

A former deputy chief, Melanson was taken into custody in connection with a suspicious fire at the Compton Fire Department Headquarters on Dec. 11, 2011.

Investigators believe Melanson stole thousands of dollars in Motorola radios from his employer and sold them online. Then, authorities said, the 15-year veteran of the department is suspected of setting fire to the department headquarters to destroy the evidence.

Amy Powell, KABC-TV:

Marcel Melanson, 37, was arrested at his home. Melanson, who was a member of the Compton Fire Department for over 15 years, is accused of setting a fire at the headquarters of the Compton Fire Department in December of 2011 to destroy evidence of a theft.

“As the investigation unfolded, we began to realize that they were connected, and we realized that the fire itself was a mask to try to cover up the fact that the radios were missing,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The radios were in storage, to be used for a communications upgrade in connection with a now abandoned plan to re-establish Compton’s police department.

Abby Sewell & Angel Jennings, Los Angeles Times:

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Melanson had allegedly stolen some of the police equipment and then set the fire to cover up the theft.

“We don’t know what happened, but we do think it’s connected,” Whitmore said.

Melanson was featured on the BET reality series “First In” and profiled by the L.A. Times in 2009.

Compton city officials could not be reached for comment. Whitmore said Melanson was terminated from the department as a result of the investigation into the fire.

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