The former employee of the Home Central Store in Vestal who admitted setting a fire that damaged the business in February will spend six years in prison.
Richard Millard, 50, was sentenced Tuesday in Broome County Court for his guilty plea to a felony count of second-degree arson in connection with the Feb. 13 blaze that ripped through a lumber storage area facility on the east side of the Home Central Store building, adjacent to the parking lot for the Vestal Rail Trail. He was an employee of the business at the time of the fire.
Court documents said Millard intentionally lit a cardboard box on fire using a lighter, which ignited the fire inside the building.
Firefighters from at least six local departments including Vestal, Endicott, and West Corners, converged on the business at 199 Stage Road when the fire broke out.
Firefighters worked to put out a fire at Home Central in Vestal Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
When the fire broke out around 1:40 p.m., the business was occupied by employees and customers, all of whom were able to get out safely, according to Vestal Police Lt. Christopher Streno.
Millard knew other people were in the building when he started the fire, court documents said.
The fire caused extensive damage to the warehouse portion of the store, culminating in a complete loss of the warehouse and its contents. But the retail portion of the store received minor smoke damage.
Home Central is a full-service home center, which was established in 1973 and operates three locations in Owego, Candor and Vestal. The business has reopened and is in the process of rebuilding and expanding the warehouse area where the fire took place and the wreckage has since been removed.
Millard was arrested in March after investigative efforts by the Vestal Police Department, the Broome County Bureau of Fire Investigation, and the District Attorney’s Office.
The prison sentence handed down Tuesday will be followed by four years of post-release supervision.
When Millard pleaded guilty, the Broome County District Attorney’s Office agreed to cap his prison term at seven years behind bars. The minimum sentence was five years in prison, though a second-degree arson charge carries a maximum possible prison term of 25 years if convicted.
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