BY STACI WILSON
A 19-year-old firefighter-turned-arsonist was sentenced Thursday to time in state prison for torching the Lenox Township restaurant where he was employed.
Daniel Parsons Jr., of New Milford, was sentenced to three to eight years for setting fire to Bingham’s Restaurant in April. Two other businesses were also destroyed in the fire.
The teen was also ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution – an amount the court acknowledged would unlikely ever be paid in full.
Parsons pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to the felony arson charge.
At the hearing, Bingham’s owner Dave Scarpetta thanked the firefighters who fought the blaze.
“It was my pleasure to employ and serve the people of Susquehanna County and the surrounding areas,” Scarpetta said. He told the court he planned to rebuild the landmark eatery.
Scarpetta also asked Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth Seamans to imprison Parsons for a “suitable amount of time.”
Scarpetta’s daughter Ashley, who also worked at the restaurant, spoke of the number of employees and families affected by the arson.
Ms. Scarpetta said, “(Parsons) not only impacted the lives of me and my family, but also the lives of all the employees and their families.”
She described Parsons as a dangerous person. “I do not believe people who do dangerous things should receive leniency,” Ms. Scarpetta said.
“He even showed up to fight the fire he started,” she told the court.
Parsons was a rookie volunteer firefighter with the New Milford fire company at the time of the fire.
District Attorney Jason Legg asked for Parsons to receive the maximum sentence of 20 years. He said Parsons demonstrated escalating levels of criminal behavior.
Legg said, “He graduated from the juvenile justice system to the adult system and was on probation when this occurred.”
After the sentencing Mr. Scarpetta said, “It’s gut-wrenching to see a 19-year-old go to jail. Dan certainly needs some time to think about what he did. It’s hard to see a 19-year-old commit an act that so adversely affects their life.”
Mr. Scarpetta said he is hoping to reopen the restaurant in the spring.