Somerset County officials announced the indictment of Juan Hector Padilla, 29, of Bound Brook, in relation to the seven-alarm fire that began at the construction site of the Meridia II building, located on East Main Street and Mountain Avenue in Bound Brook.
The defendant was indicted by a Somerset County Grand Jury on charges of Burglary, Aggravated Arson, Aggravated Assault (for injury to a firefighter) and Hindering Apprehension of Oneself.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson stated that on January 12, at approximately 7:53 p.m., the Bound Brook Police Department received a 9-1-1 call reporting a fire at the Meridia II building located on East Main Street and Mountain Avenue.
The Bound Brook Fire Department, along with thirty-six fire companies from Somerset, Middlesex, Union, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties., as well as the New Jersey State Forestry Service responded to the scene in an attempt to suppress the fire.
Due to radiant heat and wind, the fire spread quickly throughout the building and to adjacent buildings located on Main Street. A firefighter was injured, suffering a sprained ankle while suppressing the fire.
Prosecutor Robertson stated that detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bound Brook Police Department, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Fire Investigation Unit, fire officials from Somerset County, and State and Federal investigators responded to the scene to collaboratively conduct the fire investigation.
As a result of the investigation, a male, later identified as Juan Hector Padilla, was seen walking in the area of the Meridia II building several times leading up to the fire.
Further investigation revealed that defendant Juan Hector Padilla was the individual responsible for the fire at the Meridia II building. The investigation into the origin and cause of the fire was conducted by investigators.
As a result of this investigation, on Monday, January 13, defendant Juan Hector Padilla was arrested and charged on a criminal complaint with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 3rd degree Hindering Investigation Apprehension/False Information.
Based on subsequent investigation, the defendant was later charged with criminal complaints for Burglary and Aggravated Assault. He was indicted by the grand jury on Wednesday, December 2, on all charges.
According to officials, Defendant Juan Hector Padilla was lodged on January 13, at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing. After a detention hearing on January 17, the defendant’s detention was continued in the County Jail under an order of pretrial detention entered by the court.
Somerset County officials request anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the Bound Brook Police Department at (732) 356-0800.
Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.
The charges listed are merely an accusation, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.