DUBOIS – A former fire chief has waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Christopher George Leone, 24, 1398 Treasure Lake, DuBois, is charged by the DuBois-based state police with reckless burning, official oppression, criminal mischief and dangerous burning. Bail in this case has been set at $5,000, unsecured.
According to previously published GANT articles, on April 15, a fire broke out in a wooded area at the intersection of Jolly Roger and Harborview roads in Treasure Lake. A second fire of similar nature broke out on May 8.
Aaron Kulbacki, a co-defendant in the case was interviewed by police and confessed to starting the April 15 fire. Kulbacki allegedly told police that he is a member of the Treasure Lake Fire Company and Treasure Lake Security.
He said there has been “general conversation” for some time within the fire company about causing small fires in order to generate call volume.
He told police that he was in a vehicle with Leone on April 15, heading back from fire training in Tionesta, when Leone started talking about setting fires. Kulbacki told police that Leone allegedly told him to set a brush fire with a flare.
Kulbacki told police that Leone had allegedly told him to set the fire in an area that was easy to reach and near no homes. Kulbacki said Leone brought up starting a brush fire again on the way home from training.
Kulbacki told police Leone was at the fire station when Kulbacki took a flare and went to the intersection of Harborview and Jolly Roger roads. Kulbacki said he lit the flare and threw it over an embankment, then went home.
Kulbacki told police he was home for about 15 minutes before someone reported the fire.
Kulbacki told police that he allegedly spoke to Leone after the fire had been put out and told police that Leone allegedly laughed and told Kulbacki he wouldn’t get caught.
Police then spoke to Leone who agreed to an interview. Leone allegedly told police that he was the Treasure Lake Fire Chief on April 15 and that he did not set any fires in Treasure Lake.
Leone allegedly told police he believed the fire on April 15 was possibly set by “kids messing around with a rust-oleum can. He then allegedly told police he had been “joking around” with Kulbacki about setting fires on the way home from fire training in Tionesta.
After denying his involvement in the April 15 fire for about a half-hour, Leone allegedly told police that after coming back from Tionesta, he went back to the Treasure Lake Fire Station and said he “joked around,” saying “we can go for a call tonight.”
Leone again told police that his statements to Kulbacki were “a joke.”
Leone allegedly told police that he had “joked” to Kulbacki about going for a call on a brush fire that night because it was brush fire season. Leone allegedly told police that he did not intend for it to be serious or for it to “go that far.” Leone told police that he did not provide the materials to set the fire.