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Guilty Plea in Fire Chief’s Arson Charges

Rising From An Illegal Controlled Burn
in Exchange for Political Favors

NOW-FORMER FIRE CHIEF OF QUINTON, New Jersey Patrick Foster, 47, plead guilty Monday to "third-degree crimes of arson and hindering apprehension or prosecution."  The department's assistant chief and another firefighter are awaiting trial on similar charges from the same incident.

Patrick Foster

The arrests were made in July of 2011 following a controlled burn of a vacant house in December 2010 that was done as a favor in exchange for an illegal act and performed without getting the proper permits as well as violating several state safety regulations.  The South Jersey Times reports:

Under (a) plea agreement, the state will recommend that Foster be sentenced to 364 days in the Salem County Correctional Facility as a condition of a term of probation.

He must also forfeit his membership in the fire company and will be permanently barred from any public position or employment. Foster could also face a fine of up to $30,000, authorities said.

In pleading guilty, Foster admitted that he agreed to use the fire company to burn down an abandoned house at 32 Beasley Neck Rd. in Quinton Township in order to gain assistance from the property owner’s son.

The son, identified by authorities as Gary Bell, also of Quinton, was the housing official for Quinton Township at the time, and Foster wanted his assistance in obtaining a certificate of occupancy in connection with renovations he was making to his own home, authorities said.

Foster also admitted that he hindered the investigation by lying to police, saying that his wife knew of an arrangement between him and Bell regarding the fire and the certificate of occupancy, when she did not.

The entire operation was rife with safety violations that just kept getting worse.

Read the entire ARTICLE HERE for the additional details.

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