Shelton firehouse arson suspect takes plea deal

A former volunteer fire captain accused of drunkenly setting a carboard box bonfire behind a Shelton firehouse took a plea deal in the case Tuesday.

Gregory Bomba, 45, pleaded guilty to reckless burning before Judge Peter Brown.

Gregory Bomba

According to a plea deal between Bomba’s lawyer, John Cirello, and State’s Attorney Margaret Kelley, Bomba will receive a five-year suspended prison sentence and three years of probation when he is sentenced.

The judge indicated Bomba will also have to perform 250 hours of community service.

Another defendant in the case, William Tortora, whose brother is Shelton’s fire marshal, is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

The fire happened Feb. 3 in the rear parking lot of Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Co. 1 at 379 Coram Ave. as a “past captains dinner” took place inside the firehouse.

Kelley said that surveillance video from the firehouse showed Bomba and Tortora lighting cardboard boxes on fire in the bed of a Tortora’s pickup truck, which was parked behind the firehouse.

The prosecutor said both of the men had been drinking at the time.

A detective investigating the case recognized Bomba and Tortora’s truck on the video, Kelley said.

“The defendant was moving boxes around to help the fire breathe,” Kelley said. “At one point the fire was about five feet high.”

Eventually Tortora got in the truck and drove away as the fire continued to burn, with Bomba taking pictures on his cell phone, Kelley said.

He posted a picture he took during the incident on Facebook, “though that was taken down after a short period of time,” Kelley said.

When questioned by police, Bomba confessed to starting the blaze, which caused an estimated $450 in damages to the building and a car parked nearby.

The judge scheduled Bomba’s sentencing for April 23, and indicated he will make 250 hours of community service a condition of Bomba’s probation, in addition to alcohol abuse evaluation and treatment.

Bomba remains free after posting $100,000 bond in the case.

Tortora, 58, has been jailed since his arrest in the case last March. In addition to the arson, he faces child pornography possession charges connected with a police search of his cell phone during the investigation of the fire.

ethan.fry@hearstmediact.com