Former fire department volunteer sentenced for arsons

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – A former West Glens Falls Fire Department volunteer was sentenced for setting a number of fires at the fire station.

William Smith was ordered to serve eight years in state prison with five years post-release supervision.

Smith pleaded guilty in March to setting a string of fires at the West Glens Falls Fire Department in 2012. The court said Smith also admitted his guilt on the phone to a friend while he was in jail.

But Smith’s attorney Mark Zuckerman said Smith suffered a head injury and didn’t know what he was saying.

“You don’t think clearly, and you don’t respond appropriately to questions because your brain’s not working right and that’s exactly what happened here,” Zuckerman said.

Judge John Hall wasn’t persuaded. The sentence left Smith’s family shocked.

“Angry. Hurt,” Smith’s mother Cindy Smith said. “Disappointed at the people that haven’t stood beside my son and accused him of something he didn’t do. We put so much evidence forward that contradicted it.”

West Glens Falls Fire Chief Michael Gordon sees it differently. He said he lost all trust in Smith and urged Smith to seek help before it’s too late.

“You are the true meaning of arsons,” Gordon said. “And the next fire may kill someone.”

Restitution is $10,000 with $2,000 going to the fire department.

Smith’s family and attorney plan to appeal the sentence because of Smith’s reported concussion in prison.

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