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E. Huntingdon teen ordered to attend fire-starter program

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

An East Huntingdon teenager was sentenced Monday to serve at least six months in an inpatient treatment center for juvenile arsonists.

Ricky Wayne Wilson, 17, was ordered by Westmoreland County Judge Michele Bononi to attend the Abraxas fire-starter program in Franklin County.

Wilson last month was voluntarily adjudicated delinquent, the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea, to four counts of arson for setting fire to his neighbor's home last year.

The police said Wilson set a sofa on fire on the back porch of the home on June 8, 2011. The blaze was put out by a neighbor with a garden hose and caused about $4,000 in damage.

Five days later, a second fire was set while family members were inside. That fire destroyed the house, valued at about $280,000, and killed Snowball, the family's cat. Everyone escaped without injury.

Police said Wilson was identified as a suspect and the investigation found that the teen boasted about setting the fire to friends through text messages and online video games.

Wilson's status in the fire-starter program will be reviewed in six months, when he could be ordered to continue the inpatient treatment, Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro said.

“These were serious felony-level offenses and he hasn't fully dealt with this issue. I still have some concerns over community safety,” Ciaramitaro said.

Defense attorney Tim Andrews said a psychologist who examined Wilson recommended that he not be sent away from home.

“He said he was sorry for what happened,” Andrews said. “He wants to not cause any more problems and to move on with his life.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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