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10-year sentence ordered for arson in Bailey Avenue apartments

A 64-year-old man who set fire to a 10-unit apartment building because he was angry at his son was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison.

Roger Cornell previously pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to a reduced charge of second-degree attempted arson, a felony, for starting the blaze at 437 Bailey Ave. in the early morning of Jan. 21.

According to his attorney, Cornell suffers from bipolar disorder and had stopped taken his medication when he got into a dispute with his son, who was living with him at the Bailey Avenue address. When Cornell found himself locked out of the apartment, he responded by setting the fire, attorney Gary Phillips said.

When Cornell stays on his medication, Phillips said, he leads “a relatively quiet life,” and he asked Justice Russell P. Buscaglia to consider that when imposing sentence.

However, Assistant District Attorney Paul Glascott argued for the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, pointing out that 18 people lived in the old, wood-frame apartment building and all had their lives disrupted.

“They included families with children,” Glascott said. “This could have resulted in death or serious injury.”

Cornell himself had lived there for many years before his son came to stay with him, Glascott said.

The building, which was a block south of Interstate 190 on the corner of Littell Avenue, had to be demolished after the fire, leaving only an empty field, Glascott said.

Police arrest arson suspect in connection with Bailey Avenue fire

At the time of the fire, the damage was estimated at $275,000, and fire officials said two cats died in the blaze.

When asked if he would like to speak, Cornell said, “I’d like to apologize for the inconvenience and damage I caused when I was off my medication.”

In pronouncing sentence, Buscaglia reiterated how fortunate it was that no one was injured in the fire. In addition to the 10-year prison term, he ordered five years post-release supervision of Cornell.

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