WOODBURY — After hearing details of an investigation into a Deptford Township apartment building fire that damaged 17 units on Feb. 1, a Superior Court judge Friday denied a motion to reduce the suspect’s bail to the requested minimum amount for the offenses he faces.
An account of the fire at the Chestnut Lane Apartments given by suspect Christopher Long, 31, of Willingboro, was contradicted by findings of investigators who examined the apartment where Long’s girlfriend was a tenant, said Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Laurie Cimino. Telephone data also was at odds with Long’s recollection of the incident, Cimino said.
The three-alarm fire created “a very dangerous situation, in the state’s view,” with some residents having to be evacuated using fire truck ladders, the prosecutor said.
Long’s lawyer, Steven Traub, asked for the minimum bail of $35,000 and permitting him to post 10 percent of that amount. His client had only one prior felony conviction —an assault by auto — and had never failed to appear in court, Traub said.
While presently unemployed, Long worked for five years at Fort Dix as a civilian who trained sbout-to-be-deployed troops in the use of gas masks, Traub said.
The judge, who reviewed Long’s original bail on June 4 and reset it to $50,000 — at the top of the bail guideline for the charges — said based on the seriousness of the charges and “the apparent likelihood of conviction,” bail on the five charges is reasonable.
Long is charged with aggravated arson, two counts of arson, criminal mischief and recklessly causing widespread damage.