DA Shaw Announces Charges Filed Against Area Firefighters

Fire FightersClearfield – Clearfield County District Attorney, William A. Shaw, Jr. announced today that charges have been filed against four area firefighters. 

Shaw identified the defendants as:  Hunter Harris, age 21 of Loch Lomond Road, Philipsburg, PA; Samuel Connor, age 19, of Old 220 Road, Howard, PA; Kenneth Moore, age 20, of Birch Street, Lanse, PA; and Justin Varner, age 23, of Curtin Street, Osceola Mills, PA.

On November 19, 2015, Cpl. Greg Agosti, Fire Marshall for the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop – C, filed criminal complaints charging Harris, Connor, and Moore for an October 9, 2015, fire that occurred at a residence on Ida Street, Chester Hill Borough, Clearfield County, PA.  A separate Complaint was filed charging Varner for the September 30, 2015 fire at the Hertlein Building, on Lingle Street, Osceola Mills Borough, Clearfield County, PA.   All of the suspects were charged with Arson and related offenses. 

An Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by Agosti for complaints filed against Harris, Wilbur, and Moore provides that on October 9, 2015 at approximately 4:00 am a two story house fire on Ida Street was reported to Clearfield County 911.  An investigation revealed that the fire was started in a wood frame shed attached to the rea of the residence.  The fire spread throughout the home.  No one was present in the building at the time of the fire.  The fire was determined to be arson.  Further investigation established that Harris, Connor, and Moore were members of the Hope Volunteer Fire Company, in Philipsburg.  All three collectively decided to start the fire so they could respond with the fire company and extinguish the fire.  They gathered hay, cardboard, toilet paper, and similar items to fashion a fuel package for ignition.  Moore drove to the area and dropped off Harris and Connor.  Harris placed the fuel package inside the wood frame shed and used a lighter to ignite the fuel package.  The three then returned to the fire hall to await being dispatched to the fire.   All three responded with the fire company to extinguish the blaze. 

In a separate case, an affidavit of probable cause filed by Cpl. Agosti provides that on September 30, 2015, at approximately 12:45 am, a commercial building fire was reported at the Hertlein building on Lingle Street, in Osceola Mills.  An investigation determined the fire to be arson.  Further investigation established that Varner, a member of the Columbia Fire Company, was walking home and realized the fire company hasn’t had a fire for some time.  Varner thought the Hertlein building was an eye sore in the community.  Varner found an open door, walked in and lit a pile of cardboard on fire.  Varner then shut the door and returned to his residence.  After a period of time, Varner decided to take a walk.  While walking down the street, Varner informed an officer with the fire company that Varner thought the building was on fire.  The officer responded to the building with Varner and discovered the fire. The officer immediately called 911.   Varner responded with the fire company to assist in extinguishing the blaze. 

Shaw stated that he was extremely disappointed in these young men for starting these fires.  Shaw noted that our area relies on volunteer fire fighters and the business of fighting fires is extremely dangerous.    “The action of these individuals placed the lives of our volunteers in danger and will not be tolerated,” Shaw said.  

Shaw reported that the criminal complaints were filed at the office of District Magisterial Judge Jerome Nevling.  Shaw anticipated all four defendants to voluntarily appear at Nevling’s office today for a preliminary arraignment.  Shaw said preliminary hearings will be scheduled for the near future. 

Shaw thanked the volunteer fire fighters and emergency personnel who responded to the fires for the courage and dedication to our community.  Shaw also thanked the State Police and Cpl. Agosti for resolving these cases in a timely manner.

 Anyone with knowledge or information about a crime is asked to call Clearfield County Crime Stoppers at (800)-376-4700. 

All calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential.  Anonymous tips can also be submitted by visiting the Clearfield County District Attorney web site at “www.ClearfieldDA.org” and selecting “Report A Crime”.   

CALL TODAY

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 1 (800) 376-4700 

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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