MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon career criminal Jawwad Abdul Halim pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony counts of second degree arson and tampering with a witness, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, Halim started a fire in an apartment building on Millington Street in Mount Vernon, forcing police to evacuate the building, DiFiore said. The fire department extinguished a fire that was started in the entranceway in the building, trapping three individuals.
The fire was set in retaliation to one of the trapped occupants, according to the DA. Surveillance cameras captured and recorded the activity outside the building. Detectives from the police department launched an investigation that resulted in the arrest.
While in Westchester County Jail, the DA said Halim contacted and threatened a witness in the case. The defendant faces a maximum of 25 years in state prison. DiFiore said she hopes Halim is sent to prison, and that it will send a message to other criminals, that threats and witness intimidation will not be accepted.
“Witnesses are crucial to the prosecution of criminal cases. This defendant, a career criminal, jeopardized the lives of dozens of people by setting a fire in an occupied building in an attempt to intimidate,” she said. “Then, after he was arrested, continued the behavior by threatening a witness not to testify.”
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