Tramaine Hayward, 46, of New Rochelle, NY, caught a lift from a well-meaning Palisades Interstate Parkway Police officer who found him and his disabled 2010 Nissan Altima stranded on the shoulder of the highway in Englewood Cliffs shortly before 10 p.m. Feb. 8.
Two and a half hours later, PIP police responded to a 12:30 a.m. vehicle fire in that same spot, a complaint on file in Superior Court in Hackensack says.
“The fully engulfed vehicle fire recklessly put the first responders and other motorists in danger,” the complaint says.
After Englewood Cliffs firefighters doused the blaze, investigators collected a Bic lighter, matchbook, three Nissan emblems and an ashtray from the car, which bore Pennsylvania license plates, it says.
The next morning, Hayward told New Rochelle police that the Altima had been stolen after he’d parked it in town around 1 a.m., the complaint says.
He contacted First Acceptance Insurance Company and filed a loss claim, it says.
It didn’t take much to prove the vehicle hadn’t been where Hayward said it was at the time, authorities said.
Investigators were working the case when Hayward also “followed up with the insurance company regarding the status of the claim,” the complaint says.
Hayward was arrested on Tuesday, March 21, charged with aggravated arson and arson and sent to the Bergen County Jail. A judge subsequently denied his release pending further court action, records show. He remained held there on Wednesday.
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