For Immediate Release - November 23, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Announces That Two Clinton Men are Sentenced to 15 Years in State Prison for Setting Fire to Historical Landmark and Barn

Defendants also Sentenced for Setting Fire to Two Additional Structures in Western Massachusetts

WORCESTER - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announce that a Worcester Superior Court Judge ordered two Clinton men to serve time in State Prison for their involvement 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. Superior Court Judge John S. McCann sentenced both Michael Dreslinski, age 30, and John Rousseau, age 30, to 15 years in State Prison for their convictions on the charges of Burning a Building (4 counts), Breaking & Entering in the Nighttime with Intent to Commit a Felony, Malicious Destruction of Property and Malicious Injury to a Railroad. Judge McCann also ordered both men be placed on probation while in prison, and also ordered that the men serve an additional 15 years of probation upon the completion of their State Prison sentences. While on probation, Rousseau and Dreslinski were ordered to have no contact with the victims nor have any contact with computers or incendiary devices. Upon their release from prison, the men will be monitored by electronic bracelet and will be placed on curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Judge McCann also ordered the men to pay over $200,000 in restitution to the victims for the damage caused by their activities.

According to authorities, 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 willfully and maliciously set, an act of arson.

On August 19, 2007, 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 setting a fire in an abandoned paper factory in Erving in July, and in connection with setting a fire at a railroad bungalow in Western Massachusetts, 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.

Dreslinksi was convicted by a Worcester Superior Court jury on October 16, 2009, after an 11-day trial. The trial for Rousseau began on October 29, 2009, and lasted four days, after which a jury also returned a guilty verdict against Rousseau.

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Eileen O'Brien, Senior Trial Counsel in the Attorney General's Criminal Bureau and Matthew Shea, the 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, State Police Air Wing, and police departments in the towns of Clinton, Erving, Sterling, Rutland and Holden and Boston & Maine Railways.

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