A Stafford Township man pled guilty last week to aggravated arson and four (4) counts of theft, in connection with a string of diesel fuel thefts that occurred in various jurisdictions around the State, and which culminated when the man caused an explosion, setting fire to a vehicle, in Egg Harbor Township in 2015, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced.
According to officials, on January 15, 2015, Egg Harbor Township police responded to their police impound lot, where they encountered a fire that was set in a modified mini-bus that had been seized as part of an investigation into a series of fuel thefts from gas stations in Atlantic, Camden, Morris, and Ocean Counties.
During the thefts, the mini-bus would pull up to the gas stations and stop above the underground tanks, where the bus’s inner workings, which included a generator and storage tanks, allowed it to siphon the fuel and store it inside before driving away.
One of the vehicles allegedly used in the fuel thefts was seized by the Egg Harbor Township Police Department and impounded on January 7, 2015, at the Department’s tow lot. However, a man, later identified as Robert Bailey, entered the lot and torched the vehicle, causing a fire and explosion that destroyed the mini-bus and damaged other vehicles on the lot.
An intensive multi-agency investigation led by the Egg Harbor Township Police Department and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office led to the arrest of Robert Bailey III, 49, of West Creek, Ocean County, on March 9, 2015.
The arrest was effectuated at his home on South Main Street in the West Creek section of Stafford Township, by the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, with the assistance of multiple other law enforcement agencies - including the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office; the New Jersey State Police; and Galloway, Berlin, Manchester, Randolph, and Stafford Townships’ Police Departments.
Bailey was charged with aggravated arson, theft, burglary and criminal mischief, and was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $175,000 bail.
An Atlantic County Grand Jury indicted Bailey on nineteen (19) criminal counts:
Armed burglary – a 2nd degree crime;
Aggravated arson – a 2nd degree crime;
Criminal mischief – a 3rd degree crime;
Hindering prosecution – a 3rd degree crime;
Obstruction – a 4th degree crime;
Tampering with evidence – a 4th degree crime;
Seven (7) counts of theft by unlawful taking – a 3rd degree crime;
Two (2) counts of endangering the welfare of a child – a 2nd degree crime;
Employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime – a 2nd degree crime;
Conspiracy – a 3rd degree crime;
Employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime – a 3rd degree crime; and
Theft by unlawful taking – a 4th degree crime.
Bailey Tuesday pled guilty to the aggravated arson and four counts of theft in the 3rd degree, before Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Wild, as part of a plea agreement, whereby Bailey will be sentenced to seven years state prison and must serve a minimum of three years before parole eligibility.
Judge Wild scheduled sentencing for July 14, 2017, at 8:45a.m. First Assistant Prosecutor Cary S. Shill and Assistant Prosecutor Marisa G. McGarvey represent the State in this matter.
The investigation was led by Detective John Heim of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, and Sergeant Ian Finnimore of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.