NJ Volunteer Fire Chief Charged With Arson, Burglary

Investigators believe 32-year-old volunteer is behind at least two fires in Parsippany

Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 5:46 PM EDT
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A New Jersey sheriff's officer and volunteer fire chief has been charged with deliberately setting two fires, burglary and a host of other crimes, officials said.

Jason Campbell, who also served as acting fire chief in Parsippany and formerly led a Morris County sheriff's office was arrested Tuesday in a joint undercover operation conducted by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office and the Parsippany Police Department, according to Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi.

Both fires happened at residential buildings in the town of Parsippany, according to law enforcement officials. One occurred in September 2008; the other last June.

Campbell was volunteering for the Morris County Sheriff's Office as the acting chief of the District 5 Fire Company in Parsippany at the time of the alleged incidents and was responsible for the supervision of the Explorer Program, which mentors young people who are considering a job in law enforcement, the county prosecutor said.

Public records indicate he worked for the Morris County Sheriff's Department for 11 years, reports NJ.com.

Authorities told NJ.com that one of the individuals Campbell supervised in his role at the Explorer Program allegedly participated in setting one of the fires.

At a press conference Wednesday, Bianchi wouldn't comment on that report.  

Stressing that this is a "very serious matter," he said the alleged crimes were a drain on taxpayer funds and a risk to the lives of fire personnel.

"Taxpayers are funding these things…paying for these things.  In addition to the safety issues that are at play, taxpayers do not need to waste money to respond to things that they otherwise wouldn’t," he said.

Campbell, 32, was charged with two counts of arson, one count of burglary, one count of attempted aggravated arson, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated arson and four counts of official misconduct. 

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