MARCH 29, 2013
Michael S. Petrilak (DOB 9/7/89), of 523 Elm Ave., Deptford Township NJ was sentenced today to five years in New Jersey state prison after pleading guilty to official misconduct in connection with the setting of a fire that destroyed a vacant township house when he was a volunteer fireman.
Petrilak admitted on Jan. 14 that he and a codefendant got gasoline from a Deptford firehouse and that he personally set fire to a Cattell Road house on Jan. 26, 2012. In specifying his misconduct, he acknowledged to his lawyer, Richard O’Brien that setting the fire was “outside” his firefighting duties and that the “benefit” to Petrilak was an opportunity to fight a fire.
Codefendant Lewis R. Brooks Jr. (DOB 8/29/92), of 1210 Delsea Drive, Westville pleaded guilty March 11 to conspiracy to commit aggravated arson and is scheduled to be sentenced to a five-year state prison term on May 3.
Both defendants must serve one year of their sentence before being considered for parole. Petrilak has been in jail since his arrest Feb. 3, 2012. Evaluation for a prison fire-setter program is also a sentencing recommendation for both.
Property owner Alice Sharp told Superior court Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. the house had been in family ownership 75 years and that it was scheduled to be sold
three weeks after the fire. The sale fell through, the township is pressing her and her husband to raze the gutted structure and they don’t have the $10,000 cost of demolition, she said. Judge Marshall said he would schedule a restitution hearing if the defendants don’t agree to an amount of compensation in 45 days.
Sharp also said township firefighters “feel really ashamed” for the actions of Petrilak and Brooks but “don’t know what to do to help us.”