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Northern Westchester Man Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison For Setting Fire To Own Business

Jesus Cruz
Jesus Cruz Photo Credit: Orange County District Attorney's Office

A Northern Westchester business owner was sentenced to 17 years in prison for setting fire to his own market, endangering a resident who lived above the store.

Jesus Cruz, 44, of Peekskill, was sentenced Tuesday to the prison time along with five years post-release supervision for intentionally setting fire to a building where he had operated a market in the City of Newburgh, said the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Cruz was convicted after a jury trial of arson and reckless endangerment for the Sept. 22, 2017 fire, said the DA's Office.

The jury found that Cruz had intentionally damaged the building at 435 Broadway by starting the fire when he knew that another person was in the building, showing a depraved indifference to human life to the tenant who Cruz knew lived above the bodega. 

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Cruz had become angry when fire inspectors had ordered electricity be cut off to the building due to unsafe conditions. 

A witness testified that she saw Cruz exit his store at about 10:50 PM, immediately before seeing an explosion and flames emanating from the building, the DA's Office said.

At the trial, prosecutors argued that Cruz was experiencing severe financial difficulties and had recently procured a new fire insurance policy. They also said Cruz started the fire by spilling gasoline in the building and setting it ablaze.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department for their investigation and arrest of Cruz, the City of Newburgh Fire Department, not only for responding to the fire but for aiding in the investigation and prosecution of the case, and the Westchester County Police Department, whose arson canine “Daisy”, was used in the investigation.

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