For Immediate Release - July 20, 2017

Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association Presented Three Arson Watch Rewards to Merrimack Valley Residents

Ronald Meehan, of Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting (aka MA-RI FAIR Plan), joined by State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and State Police Det. Lt. Paul Zipper, presented rewards to three people today as part of the Arson Watch Reward Program. The three contributed key information to investigators that lead to solving a major mill fire in Haverhill and a series of arson fires in Lawrence. The rewards were presented at two separate events, one in Haverhill and one in Lawrence. In Haverhill they were joined by Fire Chief William F. Laliberty, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Police Captain Stephen Doherty. In Lawrence, they were joined by Mayor Daniel Rivera, Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty and Police Chief James X. Fitzgerald.

Meehan said, “The Arson Watch Reward Program was established in 1981 and was one of the first sponsored by any group to reach out for active public response to the senseless incidence of arson fires. Thirty-six years later, we are still proud of the fact that we have continued to assist fire investigators by encouraging the public to come forward with key information.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “I want to thank these brave individuals for coming forward and helping the investigative team solve these cases. Arson is not a victimless crime and takes the whole community working together to hold these people responsible.”

2015 Haverhill Vacant Mill Fire
The Haverhill fire was an 8-alarm vacant mill fire at 30 Stevens Street that started at 5 p.m. on September 20, 2015. Reginald King, walking home from a store saw and photographed the fire in its earliest stage and also saw three of the four teens ultimately convicted of setting the fire walking away from the mill. The second witness, Joseph Iannalfo, heard information at Haverhill High School about who had set the blaze and came forward. Four juveniles, a 14-year old, two 15-year olds and a 16-year old, were arrested and convicted in connection to setting this fire. The four were committed to the Department of Youth Services. The building had been slated to be sold the next day for $750,000 for redevelopment into condominiums.

2016 Lawrence Series of Arson Fires
The Lawrence fire was on March 20, 2016 in a 6-story brick mill building at 3 Broadway and caused $100,000 in damage. Charlotte, the

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 witness in the Lawrence case, is a formerly homeless woman who helped to arrest a serial arsonist who was charged with setting two car fires, a house fire, the mill fire and two dumpster fires, all in the early morning hours of March 20. Luciano Ramirez, then a 30-year old laborer, was convicted and sentenced to 4-6 years in state prison. Charlotte lived in a tent along the river next to Ramirez. She provided information on two fires she saw him light of which investigators were unaware.

Arson Watch Reward Program
The Arson Watch Reward Program is funded by the property and casualty insurance underwriting companies in Massachusetts and is administered by the Mass. Property Insurance Underwriting Association, also known as the MA-RI FAIR Plan. The program gives rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps to solve the crime of arson and also sponsors the Arson Watch Hotline –
1-800-682-9229. Since it started in 1981, over 360 rewards have been presented. For more information contact Ronald Meehan at 508-326-2047 or arsonwatch@gmail.com.

Joint Investigations
These fires were investigated by teams that included the local fire and police departments, specially trained State Police in the Office of the State Fire Marshal and were successfully prosecuted by the Essex District Attorney’s Office.