Whitestone firebug on ice – QNS.com

Whitestone firebug on ice

A 42-year-old Whitestone man is being held without bail on Rikers Island, facing charges that could put him away for 15 years, after a fire that swept through a bank of stores at the Whitestone Shopping Center recently.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that Michael Trantel of 15-29 159th Street in Whitestone was arraigned on charges including arson, reckless endangerment and possession of stolen property on Friday, November 7.
Judge Robert Raciti remanded Trantel to jail, and set his next court date as Tuesday, November 25.
The fire burst from the front windows of the popular Lollipops 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.
At a press conference at the arson site on Thursday November 6, Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes alleged that Trantel, whom he described as “a career criminal” was observed on security cameras, and set the fire in the diner to conceal the theft of “between 100 and 200 packs of cigarettes from behind the front counter.”
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.
During a burglary on February 9, 2007, Trantel broke into the Ace Hardware at 20-11 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Whitestone. He was observed in possession of a gun, attempting to set fire to the building after stealing money. A BB-pistol was recovered 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.
Brown said after that case that Trantel pleaded guilty to single counts of arson and burglary and received a sentence of one-to-three-years on December 14, 2007.
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.
Brown now alleges that Trantel first asked a security guard near the diner for a cigarette, was rebuffed and broke in when he saw cigarettes inside the diner.

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