A Long Island firefighter accused of setting five fires since June 2017 was suspended by the Bethpage Fire Department Monday, shortly after he appeared in Nassau County Court for arraignment on arson and other charges.
Nassau police took Christopher Cordeiro, 20, into custody Sunday night at Bethpage Fire Station 5, about 14 hours after he started a fire that caused $3,000 in damage to a shed and a PVC fence on North Hermann Avenue in Bethpage, according to court papers filed by District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office.
Cordeiro, of Bethpage, was charged with third- and fourth-degree arson, two counts of fifth-degree arson and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Cordeiro acknowledged setting the fires in statements to Nassau police investigators, the court papers said.
Nassau County Judge Elizabeth Fox-McDonough set bail for Cordeiro at $77,000 bond or $38,500 cash at his arraignment Monday morning in First District Court in Hempstead. Cordeiro, wearing a red T-shirt and bluejeans, did not speak during a brief court appearance. He was represented by a Legal Aid attorney at his arraignment. Cordeiro had not posted bail by late afternoon and his next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, according to court records.
Bethpage fire officials said in a statement they asked Nassau police to investigate after the department responded to a fire of suspicious origin on Aug. 10.
“Based on this incident, fire department officials reviewed their records and determined that a pattern had developed indicating that they may be dealing with a serial fire setter,” the statement from the Bethpage Fire Department said.
A fire on Sunday reinforced their belief, prompting the fire department to request an investigation of the blaze. The Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office responded immediately and received information from the fire department that aided in their investigation, authorities said.
The Aug. 10 fire caused $600 worth of damage to a fence at 96 Broadway in Bethpage, according to court records.
Nassau prosecutors say in court papers that Cordeiro set fire to an unoccupied home on Stewart Avenue on Aug. 5 and that he is responsible for a March 1 blaze that caused about $5,000 in damage to the siding of a home on West Millpage Drive.
The court papers also say Cordeiro ignited a Molotov cocktail in a Corona beer bottle in front of a home on Arthur Avenue in June 2017.
Cordeiro’s family declined to comment Monday.