Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boston – A Dorchester man was sentenced late Friday for committing a series of arsons.

Jose L. Baez, 41, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to 15 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. While on supervised release, Baez must wear an electronic tracking device and he will be subject to a curfew. He was also ordered to pay $3.2 nillion in restitution to his victims. Baez pleaded guilty to four counts of arson on Aug. 28, 2012.

Baez admitted setting four fires. On Dec. 26, 2008, Baez set fire to the Whole Foods Market on Alewife Brook Parkway, in Cambridge, causing more than $53,000 in damage. Baez, who previously worked at Whole Foods, quit his job and was reportedly unhappy with his employer. On April 29, 2009, Baez set fire to Jamaica Plain Auto Body, on Rock Hill Road, in Jamaica Plain, causing $196,000 in damage. Baez stacked old tires soaked in gasoline in front ofthree garage bay doors and set the stacks of tires on fire. 

Baez, who had work done to one of his cars by Jamaica Plain Auto Body, had sued the business in small claims court and lost. On July 31, 2009, Baez set fire to a commercial and residential building on Bay State Road in Boston's Kenmore Square neighborhood, causing more than $2.7 million in damage. Baez had been a patient at Back Bay Dental, which occupied the ground floor of the building. The upper floors of the building contained residences. Baez stacked old tires soaked in gasoline in the foyer of the building and ignited the tires. One resident of the building had to be evacuated by the Boston Fire Department over a fire ladder. Baez reportedly was upset over a billing dispute with the dental practice. On Aug. 9, 2010, Baez set fire to a three-family residence on Firth Road in Roslindale causing more than $200,000 in damage. Baez used gasoline to set the front porch of the building on fire. Five firefighters were injured battling the blaze and a second-floor resident injured his leg when he jumped from a second-floor porch. A female resident in the third-floor apartment had to be evacuated from the building over a fire ladder by the Boston Fire Department. Baez knew three residents of the building.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Woodlock also found Baez responsible for setting four additional arson fires. Although Baez had not been charged with the other four arson fires, federal law allows a judge to consider other criminal acts of a defendant for sentencing purposes. At the sentencing hearing, the government introduced evidence that Baez set the additional four arson fires. Judge Woodlock determined that the government's evidence was sufficient to prove that, in March 2006, Baez set fire to a hair salon on South Street in Jamaica Plain. As a result of the fire, the salon relocated, but eventually returned to its South Street location. The same hair salon was the target of another arson fire on Jan. 6, 2009. The court found that Baez set the second fire, as well. Baez previously had dated the owner of the hair salon.

Judge Woodlock also found that Baez set arson fires on Sheldon Street and Washington Street in Roslindale, both multi-family residences, on Feb. 18, 2008 and June 23, 2008, respectively. The target in both fires was Baez‘s former brother-in-law, with whom Baez was upset over an unpaid loan. After the Sheldon Street fire, Baez's former brother-in-law moved from Sheldon Street to Washington Street.

In addition to the eight arson fires, Judge Woodlock found Baez responsible for possessing with the intent to distribute approximately 400 grams of cocaine. The cocaine was found by investigators when they executed a federal search warrant at a garage rented by Baez in West Roxbury.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Guy Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Boston Field Division; Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser; Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Chief Engineer Gerald R. Reardon; Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas; and Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David G. Tobin, and Robert E. Richardson of Ortiz's Major Crimes Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Heymann of Ortiz's Internet and Computer Crime Unit.

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