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Kittanning man admits guilt in house fire

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Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

KITTANNING – A 44-year-old Kittanning man arrested for setting his house on fire in 2010 for the insurance money pleaded guilty on Friday to charges stemming from that incident.

John Albert Picardi pleaded guilty before Judge James Panchik to charges of risking a catastrophe, reckless endangerment and insurance fraud.

According to court documents, fire crews responded to a structure fire at Picardi's home at 118 N. Grant Ave. on Feb. 25, 2010.

Picardi and his live-in girlfriend, Amanda Hileman, along with her two children were not at the house when firefighters arrived at the scene.

The fire appeared to have originated at a heater in the basement and was not initially believed to be suspicious.

However, almost a year later, a friend of Hileman's told police that Hileman said Picardi had set his house on fire for insurance money.

During court on Friday, Picardi admitted to Panchik that he placed a sheet over the heater in his basement knowing there was a chance it would start to burn and cause a fire.

He also admitted driving to Tarrtown Road on the opposite side of the Allegheny River with Hileman to watch his house burn.

“I turned myself in to police over the regret of doing it,” said Picardi, adding that he contacted Erie Insurance to make arrangements to pay back the money.

Picardi faces a total maximum sentence of 16 years in jail and $35,000 in fines.

He will be sentenced in April.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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