A 21-year-old Lincoln man was indicted Wednesday by the Penobscot County grand jury in connection with a fire in Lincoln last year that caused more than $150,000 in damage to two businesses, according to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.
Cody Ferguson is charged with arson, a Class A crime; aggravated criminal mischief, a Class C crime; and failure to control or report a dangerous fire, criminal mischief and two counts of reckless conduct, all Class D crimes.
Ferguson was arrested in May in connection with an Aug. 6, 2018, fire at 36 Fleming St. in Lincoln and an incident at a nearby Big Apple store that took place a few minutes before the blaze started, Assistant District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said.
The incidents that led to the charges began about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 6 when a woman told Lincoln police Sgt. Glenn Graef, who was sitting in his cruiser on Main Street, that she had seen someone disconnect a propane tank behind the Big Apple and smelled gas, according to the complaint. While Graef was at the store investigating and making sure it was evacuated, he noticed flames at a nearby building.
Investigators with the Maine State Fire Marshal’s office concluded that the pipes to propane tanks at the building where Wilson’s Rental and Landscape Supply and WeConnect, a satellite internet provider, are located was vandalized and the propane ignited once a pipe was broken, Almy said.
Both businesses continue to operate at the same location, according to their websites.
Ferguson’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, said Wednesday that it was “unfortunate” the district attorney’s office decided to prosecute Ferguson in connection with the fire.
“He’s consistently denied causing this fire and has been cooperative with investigators throughout the investigation,” the defense attorney said. “No witnesses claim Cody started the fire, and there is no physical evidence to suggest he started the fire.”
Ferguson’s DNA was found on the broken propane pipes behind the Big Apple store, the complaint said. Ferguson allegedly admitted to investigators that he committed that crime.
Bail originally was set at $20,000 but lowered in June to $1,000, according to court documents. Ferguson remains free on bail.
He is expected to be arraigned Aug. 12 at the Penobscot Judicial Center on the charges.
If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the arson count. The Class C crime, aggravated criminal mischief, carries a maximum penalty of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000. Those crimes are felonies.
The Class D crimes, which are misdemeanors, carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
Ferguson also could be ordered to reimburse the businesses’ insurance company the $150,737 it paid out.