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A 22-year-old man from Sunnyside was arraigned on charges of setting multiple fires, which damaged three houses, a pizzeria and a former city councilman’s car, at five different locations within a three-block area of where he lives, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Devon Page, of 50th Street, was accused of setting four trash fires over the weekend in the early morning hours at three unoccupied homes and a pizzeria, as well as torching former Councilman Eric Gioia’s SUV, the NYPD and district attorney said. He was charged with five counts of arson and one of petit larceny, Brown said.
“The defendant is charged with setting five fires that were responsible for causing extensive damage to several occupied homes, a local business and a vehicle,” Brown said. “The fires could have caused serious injuries to responding firefighters or any of the people living in the residences. This should not be viewed as a prank. Arson is a serious crime that will be dealt with accordingly.”
At about 5 a.m. Sunday, a 2007 Mercury Mariner belonging to Gioia was spotted in flames in his driveway near 49th Street and 39th Avenue, cops said.
Brown said 22-year-old Page had allegedly first entered the SUV and took two pairs of sunglasses from the car before throwing a lit cigarette into the backseat. The fire damage was extensive and the nearby home suffered radiant heat damage, the district attorney said.
Gioia, who served in the Council from 2001-09 representing parts of western Queens, said he and his family were unharmed on his Twitter page.
“I’m fine, kids and Lisa are safe --FDNY just put out fire,” the three-term councilman tweeted. “My car just went up like a Roman candle while in my driveway.”
The NYPD had said there was no evidence to suggest Gioia’s car was targeted, and no one was injured in any of the fires, police said.
Officers who responded also found four rubbish fires near 50th Street and 39th Avenue and around 49th Street and 39th Avenue, the NYPD said. Page is accused of setting two distinct fires at an occupied home on 50th Street: one in the yard and another in the driveway, with the second one causing damage to the nearby home, the DA said.
The 22 year old also allegedly started two fires at Donato’s Pizza, on 39th Avenue, which was closed at the time, with one fire causing damage to the outside walls, Brown said.
The district attorney’s office said Page is also charged with setting a fire in-between two homes on 49th Street and igniting a black trash bag in front of another nearby home, which extended to an occupied home just below the bedroom of a 3-year-old.
Page was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday night and bail was set at $300,000 bond or $200,000 cash with a court date scheduled for Sept. 3, the district attorney said. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, the DA said.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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