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UPDATE: Arrest man in Whitestone arson – QNS.com

UPDATE: Arrest man in Whitestone arson

Fire marshals operating out of their new base in Fort Totten have made an arrest in the two-alarm fire that damaged a bank of stores in the Whitestone Shopping Center and gutted the Lollipops Diner.
According to Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes, 42-year-old Michael Trantel, described as a “career criminal,” has been arrested for arson, reckless endangerment, burglary and other charges.
At a press conference in front of the boarded-up diner, Byrnes said that Trantel lives just blocks from the scene at 18-07 Clintonville Street, and was identified as “a person of interest” based on security videos.
Byrnes alleged that Trantel broke in to the diner to steal “between 100 and 200 packs of cigarettes from behind the front counter,” and then “used a BIC lighter to set fire to some papers.”
The fire burst through the front windows of the popular diner at 153-31 Cross Island Parkway, about 1:10 a.m. on Sunday, November 2. Flames raced along the underside of the front awning, damaging everything in their path.
Trantel has a long record. A source within the law enforcement community told The Courier “he has seven adult arrests and five convictions,” going back to 1994.
Records indicate that Trantel was released on parole last July 14, after serving seven months of a possible three-year sentence for arson and larceny involving a pair of incidents in Whitestone.
Just after midnight on February 9, 2007, Trantel broke into the Ace Hardware at 20-11 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Whitestone.
He was observed on video holding what appeared to be a black revolver, stealing money, attempting to set the store on fire and smashing the video camera. A black BB-pistol was found at the scene.
Three months later, on May 1, 2007, Trantel stuffed paper into the gas tank opening of a 1998 Chevy Malibu parked near a pizzeria at 20-07 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Whitestone and set the paper on fire.
He was confronted by the car’s owner, pizza worker Danny Augugliaro, and fled before firefighters arrived. Augugliaro extinguished the fire himself.
According to Queens DA Richard A. Brown, Trantel pleaded guilty to single counts of arson and burglary and received a sentence of one-to-three-years on December 14, 2007. He was delivered to a prison in upstate Erie County ten days later, on Christmas Eve.
At the time of the hardware store break-in, Trantel was on probation for a 2004 larceny. He was re-arrested on February 9 for violation of probation. For most of the time between the two 2007 incidents, he was serving out the remainder of his 90-day jail sentence. That case was closed on June 28.
At last report, Trantel was in police custody at Queens central booking in Forest Hills.

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