2 sentenced in Jeannette arsons

Renatta Signorini
| Monday, April 29, 2013, 11:50 p.m.

Two men pleaded guilty Monday to several of 20 arson fires that were set in Jeannette over four years, putting residents on edge until six suspects were arrested.

Jeffrey Robert Tierney Jr., 24, of Jeannette was sentenced to serve one year, less a day, to two years, less a day, in prison and three years' probation by Judge Debra Pezze.

Tierney entered a general guilty plea in connection with setting four fires.

“These were extraordinarily foolish acts,” Pezze said.

Also pleading guilty was Christopher Allen Jones, 23, of Manor. He was sentenced to three years of intensive supervision and six months under house arrest with electronic monitoring on charges of arson and conspiracy for an Aug. 29, 2008 fire on Chambers Avenue.

That was the first in the string of arsons that plagued the city.

Jones had agreed to testify against Tierney, who pleaded guilty to starting fires on Aug. 29, 2008, and Sept. 3, 2009, at row homes on Chambers Avenue and Nov. 22, 2011, and Feb. 16, 2012, both at 420 Division St.

Prosecutors were seeking a term of incarceration in a state prison for the fires that caused “much pain, angst and fear among the residents of that city,” Assistant District Attorney Leo Ciaramitaro said.

Authorities arrested six people in mid-September, alleging their involvement in nine of the 20 arsons.

Local police were assisted by federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Jeannette fire Chief Joe Matijevic said no other suspicious fires have occurred since the arrests were made.

Tierney's mother, Michele Horne, called his sentence “fair,” but said her son did not commit three of the arsons with which he was charged.

Pezze told Tierney that he was lucky “no one was hurt or seriously injured.”

“I didn't think about that,” Tierney replied.

Jones's attorney, Tim Andrews, argued that his client was “involved with some wrong people” at the time of the 2008 fire, but he is now the “sole provider” for his girlfriend, their son and her daughter with a mechanic's job in Irwin.

“When he was 18, yes, he did some dumb things,” Andrews said.

Pezze agreed. “Now you live a life of dignity with a job and a family and I wouldn't want to take that away from you,” she told Jones.

Three more suspects in the arsons are awaiting action in their cases:

• John Raymond Horne, 22, of Jeannette faces arson charges in connection with four fires on Sept. 3, 2009, along Chambers Avenue; Aug. 24, 2010, at 212 N. Fifth St.; Nov. 22, 2011, at 420 Division St.; and Feb. 3, 2012, at 324 Chestnut St., where a firefighter was injured. A trial is set to begin Monday for Horne, who is Tierney's half brother.

•Richard Allen Adair Jr., 28, of Jeannette faces arson charges for three fires — on Aug. 24, 2010, at 212 N. Fifth St.; Oct. 19, 2011, at 416 S. Sixth St.; and Nov. 18, 2010, at 118 N. Fifth St. He will seek to have his bond reduced in a May 13 hearing.

• His brother, Roger William Adair, 27, of Jeannette faces arson charges in three fires — on Sept. 3, 2009, along Chambers Avenue; Feb. 3, 2012, at 324 Chestnut St., where a firefighter was injured; and Nov. 18, 2010 at 118 N. Fifth St. A September trial is scheduled. The Adairs are brothers.

A juvenile charged in a July 9, 2011, fire began a fire-setting rehabilitation program in October. The 17-year-old boy was adjudicated for a fire set inside the former Monsour Medical Center along Route 30.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374.

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