STOWE, Vt. (AP) — A Stowe man charged in eight arsons that police say caused more than $1.5 million in damage to the resort community has been arrested by federal agents.
Jeffrey Nolan, 62, made his initial appearance in federal court on Monday on a complaint of malicious damage or destruction, by means of fire, of property used in or affecting interstate commerce, federal prosecutors said. He was held pending further proceedings. The federal government plans to seek formal federal charges before a grand jury.
A series of fires over more than five years in Stowe has caused millions of dollars in damages to structures, displaced several people from jobs, endangered the lives of residents and first responders and created an atmosphere of anxiety for the town’s residents, the office of the U.S. attorney said.
Nolan pleaded guilty earlier this month to eight state counts of arson. Nolan offered no motive for the fires, said Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Ambroz, who said mental health and substance abuse appeared to be a factor, WCAX-TV reported. The judge ordered a mental evaluation.
Detectives said he admitted setting a fire that damaged the Stowe Public Library on March 30, 2019, a fire on Jan. 7 at the Stowe Cable Systems building and at least seven other fires since March of 2019. Nolan’s federal public defender said he had no comment on the federal complaint.
“A series of fires like this has public safety and psychological impacts well beyond the costs of property damage,” said U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan in a written statement.
Nolan would face between five and a possible 20 years in prison if convicted of the crime charged in the federal complaint.