March 29, 2013

Bingham man charged with town garage arson

Investigators became suspicious of Brandon L. Sherwood, 29, when he was seen near the blaze looking for his dog, which died in the fire

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

BINGHAM — The owner of a dog killed in the fire that destroyed the Bingham town garage last weekend was arrested by state fire officials Thursday night on arson charges.

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Brandon Lee Sherwood

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Sgt. Joel Davis of the State Fire Marshal's Office helped investigate the arson fires in Bingham over the weekend. Behind him is the public works garage.

Staff file photo by Rachel Ohm

Investigators said they became suspicious of the dog's owner, Brandon L. Sherwood, 29, when he was seen near the garage looking for his dog after firefighters responded to fight the blaze, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, in a news release Friday.

Investigators later found Sherwood's dead dog in the rubble of the building, McCausland said.

He said the pit bull-lab mix named "Phantom" apparently was in the building when a flammable liquid was used to start the fire and the animal was trapped inside.

The Saturday night fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage to the town's public works garage and equipment, including several large vehicles, stored inside.

Sherwood also is a suspect in another fire that night at Here's the Scoop, an ice cream shop on Main Street, according to McCausland. The fire remains under investigation by fire marshals, he said.

Sherwood was arrested by the state Fire Marshal's Office at his home at 9 Preble St. in Bingham. He was taken to the Somerset County Jail, where he will remain until his arraignment Monday and is assigned a lawyer. Bail is set at $100,000.

Also on Friday, Sherwood's grandmother, Judith Miller, also of Preble Street, was in court modifying a protection from abuse order she obtained against him in May.

Miller filed the order against Sherwood after furniture and several boxes of belongings from the family's former camp in Caratunk disappeared and she suspected her grandson either burned them in a fire pit near their homes or sold them.

None of the items were recovered, Miller said.

On Friday, Judge Daniel Billings agreed to amend the order to allow Miller to visit Sherwood while he is in jail.

"I need to initiate contact, limited, to start (the) healing for Brandon and our family," Miller wrote Friday morning in the modified protection order. She wrote that he has obeyed the order since it was filed.

In 2003, Sherwood was convicted of five counts of burglary and four counts of theft. He was sentenced to three years in the state prison, with all but 57 days suspended, three years probation and ordered to pay $12,964 in restitution, according to court records. He later violated the conditions of his probation and was sentenced to serve an additional 92 days in jail.

In 2012, a judge ordered Sherwood to pay $50 per month for unpaid restitution from the thefts. A motion to enforce restitution is set for April 2.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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