DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Milo man who admitted in Piscataquis County Superior Court Monday that he set the fire last fall that destroyed most of downtown Milo to cover his burglarizing a pub will be behind bars for eight years.
Christopher M. Miliano, 32, pleaded guilty to one count each of arson, burglary and theft by unauthorized taking in connection with the Sept. 14, 2008, fire that destroyed a flower shop, a game room, a former theater, the Milo True Value hardware store, Hobnobber’s Pub and heavily damaged a pizza parlor.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault, which occurred in November 2008. In that case, Miliano had struck his wife with an aluminum baseball bat. She was taken to Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft where she was treated and later released.
Miliano had been indicted earlier this year on two counts of arson, but one count was dismissed Monday by Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy as part of a plea agreement.
Justice William R. Anderson imposed a sentence of 20 years to the Department of Corrections with all but eight years suspended for arson in accordance with the plea agreement. Miliano, who also was placed on four years probation, could have faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
In addition, he was sentenced to three years for burglary, 90 days for theft and one year for the assault, all to be served concurrently with the arson sentence.
Miliano was ordered to pay restitution of $6,500 to cover the deductible amounts the business owners had to pay out-of-pocket and for the pub’s inventory loss.
Three of the victims of the fire were in the courtroom Monday and addressed the court. Sandra Haley, owner of the flower shop which had closed in December, and Val Robertson, owner of the pub, both told Anderson that the fire had not only disrupted their lives but the community as well. The toll could have been much greater had tenants in two of the apartments not managed to escape the fire, according to Robertson.
“I’m hoping he’s away as long as he can be,” Robertson said of the prison term.
Haley, too, urged a long prison term. “I feel the maximum sentence for this young man should be imposed,” she said.
Miliano, who has a lengthy criminal history, told Anderson that he had been drinking and doing drugs the night he broke into the pub to steal food. He said he couldn’t recall how he started the fire.
While he didn’t offer an apology in court, Miliano’s attorney, Donald Brown of Brewer, said his client recognized he had a “very serious” lapse of judgment that night and that he was very sorry for what he had done.
A pair of latex gloves was among other evidence that helped state fire investigators, including Scott Richardson, nab Miliano. Some items that had been taken during the burglary, including food and a trashcan containing the latex gloves, were discovered about 100 yards from the fire scene, according to Almy.
The gloves had been used by Miliano in an attempt to avoid leaving fingerprints behind during the burglary, but his DNA was found inside the gloves, investigator Richardson explained during a break in the court proceedings.
Almy also noted in the courtroom that other items taken from the pub were found at the home Miliano shared with his wife.
“I think this is a good resolution to the case. This is a significant sentence. Twenty years is a long time in jail, and that’s what he’s looking at if he doesn’t follow his conditions of probation,” Almy said after the court hearing. “For what happened there, it’s appropriate.”