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Pa. man sentenced to state prison for setting fires

April 20, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man who pleaded guilty in March to setting two fires in 2005 received a state prison sentence this week in Franklin County Court and was ordered to pay more than $380,000 in restitution.

Robert J. Smith, 28, formerly of 270 S. Main St., was sentenced Wednesday by Judge John R. Walker to 21 months to 15 years in prison. Smith has served nearly 16 months in the county prison, according to the sentencing sheet.

On Nov. 6, 2005, Smith set fire to a mattress in his Chambersburg apartment, in a building owned by Adams-Hanover Counseling Services, Chambersburg police said. Walker ordered Smith to pay $20,963.16 in restitution to the Adams-Hanover and its insurer, court documents stated.

Released on bail a few days later, Smith was placed in another apartment, this one leased by Person Directed Supports at a building owned by Mike Hennessy at 978 Lincoln Way East, according to court records. On Dec. 28, 2005, Smith used a lighter to set a handkerchief on fire, which he then set on a piece of furniture, police said.

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Smith stayed inside until he could no longer stand the smoke, police said. A short time later, while still at the scene, he walked up to a police officer and admitted setting the fire, police said. Smith said he did it because he was depressed, police said.

Walker ordered Smith to pay $363,465.85 in restitution to Hennessy and his insurer, according to court records. Walker also ordered Smith to take all medications prescribed for mental illness, according to the sentencing order.

Smith's case had been delayed several times while he received treatment at a state mental hospital, court records stated.

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