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Pa. man pleads no contest to setting a fire in trash bin

December 20, 2005

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man with a long history of setting fires pleaded no contest Friday in Franklin County Court to setting one in a trash container.

Larry Francis Brookens, 58, of 56 S. Main St., was charged by borough police with arson and causing or risking a catastrophe for a fire set July 22 behind a building at 72 S. Main St.

On Friday, he entered the no-contest plea to causing or risking a catastrophe, a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Brookens was placed on probation in 1972 and jailed in 1973 and 2000 on arson-related charges, according to records in the Clerk of Courts office.

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The affidavit of probable cause for the July 22 incident stated the container was blocking the rear door of the building and flames were reaching the second floor windows.

A police officer pushed the container away from the building and the fire was put out by the Chambersburg Fire Department, police said.

A witness gave police a description of a man she had seen behaving suspiciously in the alley, and police stopped Brookens as he was walking in the first block of South Main Street. Police said Brookens was taken into custody for violating parole for consuming alcohol.

Police found two hand-rolled cigarettes and a lighter on Brookens, the affidavit stated.

His sentencing on the latest charge will be Wednesday before Judge Carol Van Horn. He also is listed for sentencing that day for parole violations of his 2000 conviction for arson and risking or causing a catastrophe and a conviction that same year for driving under the influence, according to the court sentencing list.

The 2000 arson case also involved setting a downtown trash container on fire, according to court records.

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