December 26, 2012

Windham fire explanation too 'sensational' for investigators

Court papers say Donato Corsetti staged the fire to collect on an insurance policy.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

This Monday, Dec. 10 photo shows a three-unit Windham apartment building on Gray Road that was damaged by fire. The owner of the building is now suspected of setting the fire and then tying himself up to make it look like a mob hit.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

This Monday, Dec. 10 photo shows a three-unit Windham apartment building on Gray Road that was damaged by fire. The owner of the building is now suspected of setting the fire and then tying himself up to make it look like a mob hit.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

"We asked him why he was not poured with ignitable liquid if it was a hit on him, and he answered by saying they just wanted to scare him," the affidavit says. He asked them not to investigate any further.

Corsetti initially agreed to a polygraph exam but then backed out, saying he had to check with his doctor because he had a heart condition, the affidavit says.

Corsetti admitted to being behind on all of his debt payments except for the store, though he denied that the apartment building had been foreclosed on, according to the affidavit. Officers later learned that Corsetti's home also had been foreclosed on.

At the time of the foreclosure, the properties were worth $250,000 and Corsetti owed more than $425,000. He was left owing more than $175,000 after Fannie Mae bought the property in foreclosure on Nov. 29, the affidavit says.

The insurance policy on the properties was for $509,800, the affidavit says.

On Dec. 11, Corsetti told police that he did not want to cooperate any more and gave them his attorney's name, the affidavit says.

Stanford wrote that he believes Corsetti did not remember that the apartment door opened inward, and after setting the fire and wrapping the cord around his hands, he had trouble getting out, which is why he was seen in the window beside the door.

Stanford said he believes that Corsetti set the fire and no one was trying to kill him.

"Donato did not have any trace of ignitable liquid on his clothing, which in my experience is not the case when a perpetrator is trying to kill someone with the use of such liquids and fire," Stanford wrote.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the Fire Marshal's Office said Corsetti has not been charged with any crime. "We're still finishing up some things before we present everything to the district attorney."

Corsetti has had two previous fires, one that destroyed the store in 1998 and one that damaged his home in 2007. Davis said investigators would take another look at the reports from those fires, which were deemed accidental, but they happened so long ago that it's unlikely any new investigation would be started.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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