Church arsonist told stories of playing in NBA, being FBI informant

| May 24, 2013

A man acknowledged by his own lawyer as “a very strange individual” who last fall announced to multiple people that he planned to burn down an unusual Des Moines church has been convicted of first-degree arson by a Polk County jury.

James Anthony Galbo, also known as “Chief” by those who frequented Des Moines’ Lighthouse Full Gospel Baptist Church, was convicted Thursday. He faces up to 25 years in an Iowa prison when he’s formally sentenced, probably next month.

Polk County authorities say Gablo’s bed in a corner of the church sanctuary at 1600 Capitol Ave. was the ignition point for a fire that largely destroyed Lighthouse Full Gospel on Aug. 24.

Testimony during a two-week trial showed that Galbo, one of several people who paid to sleep at Lighthouse Full Gospel, was upset about cockroaches in the building and had had an argument with the Rev. David Reasby several days before.

Police say Galbo, 56, issued several fire warnings to other church regulars on the day of the blaze, and officers later found a can of lighter fluid with Galbo’s fingerprints on it lying across the street from the church.

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Category: Church Security

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