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CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of Serial Arsonist in Palm Beach County RV Fires Costing $300,000

8/22/2018

For Immediate Release: August 22, 2018
Contact: Devin Galetta devin.galetta@myfloridacfo.com, 850.413.2842 
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of Serial Arsonist in Palm Beach County RV Fires Costing $300,000
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of serial arsonist Benjamin Harris, 54, of Lake Worth for 10 counts of 2nd degree arson in Palm Beach County, causing $300,000 in damage. He was apprehended in South Carolina Tuesday evening by U.S. Marshals. Harris had previously served eight years in prison for arson.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Destruction of personal property by arson is a very serious and dangerous crime. It not only destroys property, but can destroy lives. I’m proud of our arson investigation team and their collaboration with the U.S. Marshals to bring this fugitive to justice.”
 
An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Division of Investigative and Forensic revealed security camera footage of Harris approaching a group of RVs at Waits RV Center in Riviera Beach that were set on fire, causing more than $300,000 in damage. Harris was convicted in 2005 for a chain of arson-related fires in St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties.
 
Harris was booked into the Colleton County jail in South Carolina pending extradition to Florida. The Department would like to thank the U.S. Marshals Service and the Walterboro Police Department for their assistance in this arrest. Harris was wanted by U.S. Marshals for federal warrants out of the Fort Pierce, Florida for violation of probation with an original charge of use of explosives during a felony.
 
If convicted on all charges, Harris faces up to 150 years in prison. To report suspected arson, call our Arson Tip Hotline at 1-877-NO-ARSON (662-7766). People reporting arson can remain anonymous.
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a native Floridian and a member of Florida’s Cabinet, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).