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Press Release

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CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of Alleged Lake County Serial Arsonist

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of James Anthony Bennett for four counts of arson and two counts of armed burglary related to multiple fires in the Umatilla area of Lake County. This arrest comes as a part of a joint investigation by CFO Patronis’ arson detectives, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and the Umatilla Police Department.
CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said, “My dedicated arson detectives have been working tirelessly alongside local law enforcement to stop this wanted arsonist before he struck again. Arson is a costly and dangerous crime that often has deadly consequences. In 2017, there were approximately $21 million in arson related losses in Florida. If you commit arson, you will be caught and you will be locked up.”
A joint investigation by CFO Patronis' arson detectives revealed that Bennett allegedly committed several acts of arson in the Umatilla area including two structure fires occurring at the Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q and at Sunoco (793 South Central Avenue). In addition, he is a suspect in multiple vehicle fires occurring on Saltsdale Road, East Cemetery Road and Pine Tree Drive. All fires occurred in the same region of Lake County and within a 25-hour time span.
Bennet was arrested on April 18 and booked into Lake County Jail on charges of 1st and 2nd degree arson and burglary. If convicted, he faces up to 150 years in prison.
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