BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – A firefighter is accused of setting fire to his own home and attempting to shift blame by writing anti-police graffiti on the house, reports CBS affiliate WBNG.
Jason Stokes, 41, pleaded not guilty to arson on Tuesday.
Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell told reporters that Stokes allegedly set fire to his home on Aug. 10 while his wife and two teen children were inside. They were able to escape.
Stokes also allegedly placed full gas cans and other containers of flammable material throughout the home, essentially creating an “obstacle course,” Cornwell said. Cornwell described the home as appearing to have been “booby trapped,” creating a hazardous situation for the family and other firefighters who responded.
The house reportedly had a “Blue Lives Matter” flag flying out front, and Cornwell confirmed that a message reading “lie with pigs, fry like bacon” was found on the house.
Cornwell confirmed he believes Stokes wrote the message to help cover up his crime.
“That statement to me is absolutely despicable,” he said. “It fuels a false narrative of what’s going on in this country when it comes to the work that police officers do.”
Following a lengthy investigation, Stokes was charged with second-degree arson last Thursday.
Stokes is being held at the Broome County Jail. His bail is set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 in property.