May 17, 2012SOUTH PARIS, Maine — Former West Ossipee Fire Chief Bradley Eldridge pled guilty in Oxford County Superior Court Monday to setting fire to a barn in Porter, Maine on Christmas Eve.
Eldridge, 51, was sentenced to three years in jail and will serve 90 days of that. The remaining portion of the jail sentence is suspended, meaning he will not have to serve that time if he complies with the conditions of his post-release probation.
Prosecutors alleged that Eldridge set fire to a barn belonging to William Day, Jr. on Porterfield Road in Porter, Maine Dec. 24, 2011 and that Day was not home at the time of the fire. Alert neighbors saw the fire, called it in and then were able to extinguish the blaze before firefighters arrived. The barn, full of hay, and housing several cows, sustained minimal damage. There were no injuries to people or animals reported.
Oxford County Assistant District Attorney Joseph O'Connor said that Eldridge's ex-wife was dating Day and that Eldridge had made threats that he would "make Day suffer." Further, that a camera on the property caught a man pulling up in a car that looked like Eldridge's and caught the man entering the barn before the fire was reported. When questioned, Eldridge admitted to being intoxicated at the time and that he set the fire.
There was no testimony given Monday as a plea agreement had been reached prior to the court date, to which the judge agreed.
The terms of Eldridge's two-year probation will include paying $1,000 to Day for damages to the barn, refraining from any alcohol use, submitting to random alcohol testing, and having no contact with Day.
It is expected that Eldridge will serve out his sentence in either the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, Maine or Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Maine.
Eldridge was the fire chief in West Ossipee until March 28, 2011, when the West Ossipee Fire Precinct Commission removed Eldridge "for cause" during an executive session.