A North Bellmore Fire Department volunteer was recently arrested and charged with setting fire to a car outside a local home, authorities said.
Nassau County Police Department officials said that Matthew Greve, 25, was charged with third-degree arson at his arraignment on July 3. The felony charge stems from a May incident in which he allegedly set another man’s car on fire on purpose.
The North Bellmore Fire District takes in all of North Bellmore and parts of North Merrick, East Meadow, Wantagh and Levittown.
Detectives said that Greve, a former North Bellmore resident who now lives in West Hempstead, went to one of North Bellmore’s firehouses at around 4:30 a.m. on May 19, taking a Halligan bar, a crowbar-like instrument, and filling a water bottle with gasoline. He then went to Dewey Avenue, where the 1999 Jeep Cherokee he was looking for was parked.
Greve broke the window of the unoccupied car with the Halligan bar, poured gasoline on the seat and set it on fire, police said. Detectives noted that Greve knew the male owner and “purposely targeted his car.”
Officials did not say why he allegedly targeted the car. No one was injured in the fire.
Chris Munzing, a Nassau County District Attorney’s Office spokesman, said Greve was conditionally released to probation and is due back in court on July 18. Although police obtained a signed statement of admission, according to the criminal complaint, Greve pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
Timothy Kilgannon, a Mineola-based attorney, is representing Greve. He was unavailable for comment at press time.
The North Bellmore Board of Fire Commissioners and the chief’s office are cooperating with investigators, according to district representatives. In a prepared statement, they said arson is a serious matter and will take internal steps to ensure that any firefighter charged with the crime is suspended from membership pending the outcome of the case and a disciplinary process.
“The board and the chief’s office will continue to cooperate with the police department and the Office of the District Attorney in this matter,” they said in the statement. “The fire district is well aware that citizens charged with crimes are entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process. Firefighters charged with misconduct are also entitled to due process before disciplinary action can be taken.”
Department representatives added that the Board of Fire Commissioners and the chief do not comment on disciplinary matters.