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Newburgh Business Owner Convicted of Arson in the Second Degree and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree for Setting Fire to Building Which He knew
Was Occupied By an Upstairs Tenant
Sentenced to 17 Years in State Prison
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Jesus Cruz, 44, of Peekskill, was sentenced by Orange County Court Judge William DeProspo to seventeen years in state prison and five years post-release supervision for intentionally setting fire to a building where he had operated a bodega in the City of Newburgh. On November 9, 2018, Cruz was convicted after a jury trial of Arson in the Second Degree, and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree. The jury found that on September 22, 2017, Cruz had intentionally damaged the building at 435 Broadway by starting the fire when he knew that another person was in the building, or that there was a reasonable possibility that someone was in the building. The jury found that Cruz evinced a depraved indifference to human life, and recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to the tenant who Cruz knew lived above the bodega. Cruz was sentenced to seventeen years in state prison and five years post-release supervision for the crime of Arson in the Second Degree and received a concurrent sentence of two to six years in state prison for the crime of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree.
During the trial prosecutors argued that Cruz had become angry when fire inspectors had ordered electricity be cut off to the building 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. Cruz had a tenant who occupied the floor above the bodega. At the trial prosecutors argued that Cruz was experiencing severe financial difficulties and had recently procured a new fire insurance policy. Prosecutors argued that 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.
District Attorney Hoovler also thanked 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 also thanked the Westchester County Police Department, whose arson canine “Daisy”, was used in the investigation.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Peekskill Police Department, the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of the case. District Attorney Hoovler also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their analysis of cellular telephone records and data, and for presenting their findings at the trial.
“This defendant intentionally placed at grave risk the tenant of that building, the brave firefighters who responded to the fire, as well as others in the vicinity, and clearly deserved a severe prison sentence,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “Arson, particularly when it occurs in a densely populated urban area, is an incredibly dangerous crime. To endanger the lives of others, whether for spite or for financial reward, is something that cannot be tolerated. Every day in our county, firefighters, both volunteer and professional, risk their lives to keep us safe. Arson needlessly adds to the dangers they have bravely agreed to accept to protect us.”
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Assistant District Attorney Michael Purcell and Assistant District Attorney Matthew Ross who prosecuted the case.