BROCKTON – Alfred Russo, 75, who had already been arrested in late August on arson charges in the burning of the abandoned J.J’s Pub, 16 Liberty Street, in Hanson, has been indicted along with two new co-conspirators, Patricia Harrison, 59, and Wayne Cummings, 49, all of Buzzards Bay.
According to a statement by District Attorney Timothy Cruz, Russo was indicted on one count of burning of a dwelling and two counts of arson causing injuries to a firefighter. Harrison and Cummings were each indicted on one count of burning of a building.
The Plymouth County Grand Jury returned the indictments on Friday, Sept. 28.
The fire, which Hanson Fire Chief Jerome Thompson, III, said nearly reached four alarms, destroyed the commercial property — abandoned for approximately five-years — adjacent to the intersections of Liberty Street and East and West Washington Streets. Investigators deemed it to be an estimated $400,000 loss, according to court documents.
The fire sent two firefighters to area hospitals, Lieutenant Sherilyn Mullin as well as Timothy Royer, who both sustained heat-related injuries, and had to miss some work due to these injuries, stated court documents.
It took some time to extinguish, due to the full involvement of the structure, according to a previous statement from the district attorney, and many towns and the state responded or provided station coverage for Hanson during the incident, according to Thompson.
Harrison is the owner of the abandoned property and Cummings is Harrison’s longtime boyfriend. The indictments allege that the pair conspired, and assisted Russo, in the arson of the building.
In a police interview, the owner of the Hanson property, Harrison, said she and the defendant, Russo, a friend, were together at her home when she received a call from her real estate agent about the fire. Harrison’s boyfriend, Cummings, says he was out walking the dog when he received word of the fire from Harrison.
Yet both Harrison and Cummings identified Russo’s Jeep, in Hanson, when shown it in later interviews from cameras across from JJ’s Pub at times proximate to the fire, according to the State Police report.
Video surveillance from Dandel Construction Corporation was used to identify a party park a vehicle on the side of the building, enter through a door and remain inside for nearly eight minutes, according to the report. The party then exits, enters a vehicle and drives away. About six minutes after the party exits the structure, smoke is visible venting from the roof, it continues. Less than nine minutes later, fire is visible out of a side window.
When investigators went to meet Russo at his home in Bourne two weeks after the incident, police say he, “spontaneously stated that he was driving his Jeep in Hanson on the day of the fire.”
Russo, who was then taken for a voluntary interview at the Bourne Police Department, stated that he had been in Hanson on the day of the fire for a cookout at Cummings’ sister’s house, but didn’t end up attending because he didn’t feel well, according to the report.
He freely admitted to driving to the JJ’s Pub property, purportedly to move a generator, but said he never went inside, according to police.
In an interview with the Express, Russo blamed the fire on “spontaneous combustion,” and noted that his presence there was a “bad coincidence.”
The Hanson Fire Department’s official Twitter account tweeted: “Great Job by everyone involved from the investigators from the State Police and Hanson Police to the District Attormeys [sic] Office for getting these individual [sic] indicted.”
Fire Chief Thompson had previously been publicly critical of the Judge who originally arraigned Russo when he was first arrested.
The three will be arraigned at a later date in Brockton Superior Court.