For Immediate Release - November 10, 2009

Attorney General Coakley's Office Announces Conviction of Second Clinton Man Charged with Setting Fire to Historical Landmark and Barn

Defendant also Convicted of Setting Fire to Two Additional Structures in Western Massachusetts

BOSTON - A Worcester Superior Court jury returned guilty verdicts yesterday in the trial of a second Clinton man involved in setting fires to a historical landmark in Sterling, a barn in Holden, an abandoned paper factory in Erving, and at a railroad bungalow in Florida, MA. John Rousseau, age 30, was found guilty of Burning a Building (4 counts), Breaking & Entering in the Nighttime with Intent to Commit a Felony, Malicious Destruction of Property over $250 and Malicious Injury to a Railroad.

Rousseau's co-defendant, Michael Dreslinksi, age 30, also of Clinton, was convicted by a Worcester Superior Court jury on October 20, 2009, in connection with his role in setting fires to the same buildings. Dreslinski was found guilty on the charges of Burning a Building (4 counts), Breaking & Entering in the Nighttime with Intent to Commit a Felony, Malicious Destruction of Property over $250 and Malicious Injury to a Railroad.

Both defendants will be sentenced on November 23, 2009, in Worcester Superior Court by Judge John S. McCann at 10:00 a.m.

According to authorities, on the night of July 29, 2007, Rousseau and Dreslinski drove to the Eastern entrance of the Hoosac tunnel in Florida, Massachusetts and broke into the radio bungalow shed of Boston & Maine Railroad. Once inside they vandalized the bungalow, destroying equipment and shutting off communication with the trains inside the tunnel. Before leaving, they set fire to the bungalow. Hours later, the two men went to the mill buildings which formerly housed the Usher Paper Plant in downtown Erving in Franklin County and set the vacant mill on fire.

In the early morning hours of August 12, 2007, Rousseau and Dreslinski drove to the historic home of Mary Elizabeth Sawyer, author of the fabled nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," located at 108 Maple Street in Sterling, Massachusetts, and set the vacant building on fire. The next day, on the morning of August 13, 2007, Rousseau and Dreslinski drove to Holden, Massachusetts and set fire to a barn located at 106 Bond Road. Investigations conducted by the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit determined each fire to be deliberately and intentionally set, acts of arson.

On August 19, 2007, at approximately 12:30 p.m., following an in-depth investigation, State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office with assistance from State Police assigned to the Fire and Explosion Unit and officers from the Clinton Police Department arrested Rousseau and Dreslinski in Lancaster without incident. The men were arraigned the next day in Orange District Court, at which time they entered a plea of not guilty and were ordered held without bail.

On October 23, 2007, a Franklin Superior Court Grand Jury returned indictments against Rousseau and Dreslinski. On November 14, 2007, Rousseau and Dreslinski were arraigned in Franklin Superior Court in connection with the fires in Florida and Erving, at which time they entered pleas of not guilty and were ordered held without bail.

A Worcester Superior Court Grand Jury returned indictments against Rousseau and Dreslinski on December 21, 2007. On February 19, 2008, Rousseau and Dreslinski were arraigned in Worcester Superior Court, where they entered pleas of not guilty and were ordered held without bail.

The Worcester and Franklin county cases were combined for trial purposes. Rousseau's trial began on October 29, 2009, and lasted four days. The jury deliberated for approximately four hours before returning guilty verdicts yesterday.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Eileen O'Brien, Senior Trial Counsel in the Attorney General's Criminal Bureau and Matthew Shea, also of Attorney General Coakley's Criminal Bureau. It was investigated by the Attorney General's Office with assistance from the State's Fire and Explosion Unit, the Commonwealth Fusion Center and police departments in the towns of Clinton, Sterling, Rutland and Holden, Erving and Boston & Maine Railways.

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