Yesterday in Schenectady County Court, Joshua Robinson (DOB: 7/18/85) of 512 Schenectady Street, Schenectady, New York, was sentenced to a prison term of fifteen (15) years following his conviction of the crime of Arson in the Second Degree, a Class B Violent Felony. On January 3, 2023, Mr. Robinson pled guilty to that charge, admitting that he had intentionally set fire to an occupied residential building located at 522 Schenectady Street in the City of Schenectady on March 8, 2022. Mr. Robinson was also sentenced to complete a period of five (5) years of post-release supervision.
On March 8, 2022, the Schenectady Police and Fire Departments were called to a fire of an occupied two-family home at 522 Schenectady Street at approximately 11:45 am. The ensuing investigation was led by a team consisting of Schenectady Fire Investigators cross-designated as District Attorney Investigators, Schenectady Police Investigators, members of the federal ATF, and the designated Arson prosecutor in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, ADA Michael DeMatteo. After months of investigating and analyzing videos, fire investigators were able to determine the fire was intentionally set near a window on the first floor in an alley connecting the residence with the building next door where Robinson was residing. Schenectady Fire Investigator Chris Apa and Schenectady Police Detective Matthew Kiser collected camera footage surrounding the area from multiple sources and after analyzing the footage, determined Robinson started the fire in the building next door after smoke could be observed shortly after he exited the alley. All occupants of the building evacuated without physical injury but suffered extensive damage to their property.
Robinson was arrested for intentionally starting the fire at 522 Schenectady Street on June 10, 2022, after another suspicious fire occurred on that date in the early morning hours of a vacant building at 536 Schenectady Street. He was subsequently indicted by a Schenectady County Grand Jury for both fires.
During his plea allocution, Robinson admitted to intentionally damaging the occupied residential building at 522 Schenectady Street by starting a fire. His admission and plea to that crime was taken in full satisfaction of both arsons. Robinson had a history of setting fires, having been previously convicted of the crime of Arson in the Third Degree in 2012 and serving a sentence of 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in prison.
District Attorney Robert Carney said the following about the case, “This conviction and substantial sentence once again prove the effectiveness of our program of assigning fire department personnel as District Attorney investigators following completion of appropriate training to work with police investigators to investigate arsons. I appreciate the continuing support for this program from Schenectady Fire Chief Don Mareno. These are complex investigations that require time and dedicated resources, but the crime of arson is so dangerous and destructive, that the resource commitment is warranted. I thank them and Assistant District Attorney DeMatteo for their efforts.”
The People were represented by ADA Michael DeMatteo. Robinson was represented by attorney John DellaRatta. Assigned Schenectady County Court Judge Tatiana Coffinger, the Hamilton County Court Judge, presided.