Lehighton man admits to setting fires
A Lehighton man pleaded guilty in Carbon County court on Monday to setting various fires in the Franklin and East Penn townships area in 2011.
Todd Alan Deen II, 20, pleaded guilty to three counts of arson, two counts of malicious burning of forestry, and one count of risking a catastrophe.
He was charged by state police fire marshal and forestry agents with setting a barn and several brush fires. A former firefighter, he would set the fires then respond as a firefighter to extinguish them. He did not respond to all the fires he set.
He told investigators he was "stressed out" and set the fires to relieve the stress.
He admitted setting fire to a barn in East Penn Township on April 10, 2011, which was destroyed. That fire caused over $80,000 in damages.
The barn owner, William H. Johnson, told Judge Joseph J. Matika yesterday that he knew Deem and couldn't understand why he burned down the barn. He said, "He grew up across the road from the barn. I don't know why he did it."
Johnson said the barn was completely destroyed and was one of the last 19th century built barns in the county. Also destroyed in the fire were tools, supplies and other items Johnson said had gathered over the years.
Other fires occurred in March of 2011 and one in September 2010.
Deem told investigators he would set the fire with a lighter, flee and wait for fire companies to be dispatched. He told them he belonged at one time to the Franklin Township Fire Company and also claimed to belong to the West Penn Fire Company in Schuylkill County.
On April 10, 2011, he set the Johnson barn fire then called 9-1-1 to report it. On April 19, 2011, he attempted to set a vacant schoolhouse on fire but the blazed burned itself out.
Deem has been in jail since his arrest on the charges and is currently in the Luzerne County prison being transferred out of the Carbon jail after being involved in an assault incident at the prison.
Matika deferred sentencing to October until exact amount of restitution is determined.
In a plea bargain, if Matika accepts the terms, Deem will be sentenced to serve 30 to 60 months in prison followed by five years probation. That sentence would be a state term.