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Convicted Washington Township arsonist accused of disabling locks

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Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

A convicted arsonist released from prison in August is accused of using plumber's putty late Thursday or early Friday to disable locks at the office of Washington Township's District Judge Jason Buczak.

Mark Eric Rowley, 49, of Washington Township was charged Friday with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief and retaliation against a prosecutor or judicial official.

In addition to using the putty, he allegedly took a court garbage can and dumped its contents on a vehicle in the magistrate's parking lot.

Police said the vehicle belongs to someone not associated with the court.

Rowley served a lengthy prison sentence for starting a million-dollar fire at Saul's Lumber and other fires in Washington Township in a six-month period in 1985, and setting fire to four vehicles and an apartment in Tarentum.

In June 1986, when he was in the Westmoreland County jail accused of making telephone bomb threats, Rowley cut his wrists slightly with a hidden razor blade while left alone in a district court holding room.

On Friday, police said Buczak called them at about 8:30 a.m. to report the damage and express concern for his staff's safety.

Police searched the building and court property. Westmoreland County maintenance employees replaced the locks.

Township police Chief Scott Slagle said the building is covered by surveillance cameras, and police say they recognized Rowley.

On Friday afternoon, another district judge released Rowley pending trial in lieu of unsecured bond.

Don Heagy, special courts administrator for the county, said he was going to contact the former district judge to tell her about the incident.

A state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Rowley, who turns 50 next week, was released from custody in August. In March 1987, Rowley began serving a 13- to 26-year sentence for arson.He was sent to a community corrections center in 2007 and then paroled. But he was returned to prison in July 2010 for violating parole terms. He was released on Aug. 17.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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