Plea deal reached in Pa. steel town arson case

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2009 8:29 PM

A former assistant fire chief accused of setting two small fires in an arson-plagued steel town near Philadelphia has worked out a plea bargain freeing him from jail.

A Chester County judge says the deal for Robert Tracey Jr. is surprising. The 37-year-old Coatesville man got a sentence of the 242 days he has already served to 23 months in prison.

The judge says he would never have considered such a short sentence if Tracey had been convicted at trial. But he approved the deal Thursday after both sides referred to the risk of going to trial.

Tracey admitted setting fire to a porch seat cushion in March and then trying to ignite a trash can.

He is one of seven suspects arrested in connection with a rash of fires in and around Coatesville beginning in February 2008.