Los Angeles Times

Firefighters plead guilty in firehouse blaze

The Associated Press

Twofirefighters pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a blaze they set at a firehouse last October.

Michael Izzo, 30, pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment for a promised sentence of one to three years in prison. He faced up to 15 years if he had been convictedof the initial arson charge after trial.

Richard Capece, 31, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment in exchange for a sentence of five months in jail and 100 hours of community service. He, too,faced 15 years if he had been convicted of arson.

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward scheduled their sentencings for May 1.

Izzo and Capece were accused of using a flammable liquid to set a door on fire at the Engine 34 firehouse in Hell's Kitchen on Oct.27, 2007. Another firefighter saw smoke enter the firehouse and alerted on-duty firefighters, who put out the fire. No one was hurt.

Capece's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said his client was "devastated" because he has been fired from the Fire Department of New York.

"He had found his calling as a firefighter," the lawyer said.

Capece, of Brooklyn, will serve his 100 hours of community service with a neighborhood improvement association near his home, Aidala said.

Izzo's lawyer, Steve Gordon, had argued that the sentences should be similar on the ground that the defendants had equally redeeming qualities. He said both had givenseveral years of service to the city and were remorseful.

Gordon also said his client, who lives in Staten Island, had supported his sickly single mother since he was in high school. He said Izzo had worked at the scorchedfirehouse and would never have wanted to see anyone there injured.

Both defendants had been assigned to Engine 35-Ladder 21 in midtown Manhattan.

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