Missing CT Man Found in NJ and Arrested for Pizza Shop Arson
A missing Connecticut man, determined to burn down a Waterbury pizzeria, has been found and arrested in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Police stopped 23-year-old Scott Basile after observing suspicious behavior and arrested him after he gave flippant responses to their questions. A search of his fingerprints through a national crime database revealed that he was wanted in Connecticut for first-degree arson and manufacturing a bomb.
Basile allegedly had a grudge against Fratelli’s Pizzeria, where he claimed to have found a bolt in his pizza. Police believe Basile had sought revenge numerous times, including an attempt to torch the restaurant in December 2015, using an accelerant. Waterbury police had last encountered Basile on Christmas Day when he spotted them conducting surveillance at Fratelli’s and fled, leaving behind a modified propane tank and several Molotov cocktails.
Basile faces charges in Connecticut. But under New Jersey criminal law, authorities can charge arson several ways:
- Fourth-degree arson: This crime occurs when a person who has a legal duty to fight a dangerous fire fails to do so, or when a person fails to promptly report a dangerous fire. Penalties include up to 18 months in New Jersey state prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-degree arson: This crime occurs when a person acts recklessly to start a fire or cause an explosion that threatens life or property. Conviction carries a prison sentence of three to five years and a fine up to $15,000.
- Second-degree arson: The crime of aggravated arson occurs when a person acts purposely to start a fire or cause an explosion, knowing that it threatens life or intending that it destroy property. Conviction carries a prison sentence between five and 10 years and a fine up to $150,000.
- First-degree arson: The crime of “arson for hire” occurs when someone pays, offers to pay, accepts or offers to accept payment to produce a fire or explosion. It is also arson in the first degree when the target structure is a church, synagogue or house of worship. Arson for hire comes with potential prison sentence of between 10 and 20 years, whereas arson of a house of worship carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years. Both charges carry a possible fine of up to $200,000.