A former Compton deputy fire chief is scheduled to appear in court Friday to face charges that he stole radio equipment, then lighted a fire to cover up the crime.
Marcel Melanson was arrested at his home Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Melanson, 37, who also starred on a reality television series, was arrested on suspicion of arson and grand theft in connection with a fire in late 2011 that destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of radio equipment.
Compton had bought the radio and communications equipment in 2010, when the city was planning to end its contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and reinstate the Compton Police Department.
The City Council voted in June 2010 to move forward with the $19-million venture. The city spent at least $1.7 million on preparations to set up a department, including more than $1 million on radio equipment, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, but then killed the project in April 2011 when it became clear the general fund was running a multimillion-dollar deficit.
City officials had hoped to sell the radio equipment to help plug a $40-million budget shortfall, but in December 2011, a fire broke out at a racquetball court at the city's fire station headquarters, where the radio equipment was stored.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Melanson had stolen some of the police equipment and then set the fire to cover up the theft.
"We don’t know what happened, but we do think it’s connected," Whitmore said.
Whitmore said Melanson was terminated from the department as a result of the investigation into the fire.
The city eventually recovered about $300,000 from insurance for the radios.
He was being held Thursday on $250,000 bail.
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