WINDHAM – Donato Corsetti, a well-known Windham business owner who faced two charges of class A arson, agreed to a plea-bargain agreement in Cumberland Unified Court on Friday, Oct. 18, in which he will serve six months in jail.

The arson charges, stemming from a fire last December in an apartment building he previously owned on Gray Road, were dismissed by a judge.

According to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman, Corsetti avoided the more serious arson convictions, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years, by pleading no contest to a class C-felony charge of aggravated criminal mischief, and misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and failure to control or report a fire.

Corsetti received a two-year sentence to the Maine Department of Corrections, with all but six months suspended. He also received two years of probation with conditions that he will undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling and 100 hours of community service in the town of Windham at a place approved by the district attorney’s office.

Corsetti will be admitted to jail on Monday, Oct. 28, Ackerman said. He was represented by attorneys David Hirshon and Marshall Tinkle of the Portland-based Hirshon Law Group.

“He can’t commit any criminal activity and (must) essentially abide by the standard conditions of probation,” Ackerman said after the hearing. “If he violates any of the probation, he could go back to jail for up to a total of two years.”

Corsetti is the former publisher of the Windham Independent newspaper and has owned Corsetti’s Market at the corner of Route 202 and Windham Center Road since 1978.

Three months after the Dec. 7, 2012, fire at Corsetti’s apartment building, which is next door to the market, lead investigator Chris Stanford of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Windham Police Detective Paul Cox arrested Corsetti without incident outside of his store in Windham Center on March 7.

In a search warrant application dated Dec. 12, 2012, Stanford wrote that Corsetti burned the building in an attempt to recoup insurance money and that Corsetti attempted to cover up his actions by claiming he was a victim of an organized crime hit stemming from gambling debts. The apartment fire took place in a middle unit while tenants were at home in another unit. No one was hurt.

Corsetti told investigators the night of the fire that two men with ties to the Rhode Island mafia pretended to be interested in renting the middle unit, then bound him in a lamp cord and left him to die in the fire after Corsetti showed them the unit, according to the warrant application.

Corsetti has had two other major fires occur at buildings he owned, one in 1998 at his store and another in 2007 at his home, located directly behind the apartment building. The buildings in the previous fires were damaged substantially, but Corsetti was not charged with arson in either incident.

Donato Corsetti

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