Pastor indicted for plotting church fire

| October 15, 2009

ALBANY – A popular minister of an Albany church damaged by fire was indicted by a grand jury for his suspected role in the incident, court records show.

The Rev. Joseph Howard III was named in a five-count indictment Wednesday afternoon, which includes charges of criminal solicitation, conspiracy to commit arson and first degree arson, court records show.

The indictment alleges that sometime between Dec. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007, Howard paid Vincent Jackson and Curtis Jones to burn Trinity Metropolitan Baptist Church, where he was a pastor.

Specifically, the grand jurors charge that Howard paid to secure an apartment for Jackson if he would assist in the arson and transported Jackson and Jones to the church just hours before midnight on Dec. 31, 2007, the indictment states.

They further allege that at some point, lighter fluid was purchased and then sprayed throughout parts of the church before items were stacked and ignited, according to the document.

Howard was jailed Jan. 18, 2008, and charged with paying the men to burn the church. Both men have pleaded guilty to their roles in the plot and been sentenced. Jackson is cooperating with prosecutors and will likely testify against Howard, Prosecutor Chris Cohilas said.

Creditors were scheduled to auction the church property on Jan. 2 to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that the church owed, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine said following the fire.

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Category: Church Security

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