Sean Powers, a twenty-two year old Middletown volunteer firefighter has been charged with starting the fire that left him with critical burn injuries. William Rohweder, 23 of Middletown was also charged with arson of an abandoned barn in a residential area. The fire at 251 Monmouth Ave was reported to Middletown authorities on Saturday morning at 5:48 AM. Powers’ address is 260 Monmouth Ave.
According to a statement from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, both young men have been charged with one count of second degree Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Arson, one count of second degree Aggravated Arson and one count of third degree Aggravated Assault.
Because of his status as a volunteer firefighter, Powers has also been charged with Official Misconduct, an offense that carries a maximum prison term of ten years and a minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years, upon conviction.
Powers is in critical but stable condition at The Burn Center at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen set Powers bail as R. O. R. (Released On Recognizance) so long as he remains in an in-patient. Upon his release from The Burn Center, his bail will be reviewed.
Rohweder was released from the Monmouth County Correctional Institution after posting $85,000 bail as set by Judge Kilgallen. Rohwweder was arrested and
released on Wednesday, according to Charles Webster, spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office.
A joint investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office and the Middletown Police Department revealed Powers and Rohweder purposefully set the structure ablaze by dousing the interior of the barn with a flammable liquid. Once the fire was set, Powers and Rohweder fled the scene. While lighting the structure on fire, Powers received serious burn injuries.
Each of the charges of Conspiracy and Aggravated Assault carries with it a maximum prison sentence of ten years in a New Jersey state prison. The Aggravated Arson charge is subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring those convicted to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. Each of the men faces a maximum state prison sentence of up to five years on the third degree Aggravated Assault charge.