The man accused of setting fire to Stowe Cable Systems’ Thomas Lane building has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
On Feb. 18, the complaint was entered in U.S. District Court, charging Jeffrey M. Nolan, 62, of Stowe, with the Jan. 7 incident.
Nolan is formally accused of maliciously damaging, or attempting to damage and destroy, the Stowe Cable building by means of fire. The case is federal because of the company’s activity in, and affect on, interstate and foreign commerce.
An original complaint was filed by Special Agent Tam Vieth, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, on Jan. 21 in U.S. District Court.
On Jan. 25, Nolan pleaded not guilty via a teleconference hearing.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s web-site, prosecutors decide whether or not to present federal cases to grand juries.
The grand jury, after being presented information, typically from the prosecutor and witnesses, votes on whether there is enough information to charge.
“When a person is indicted, he is given formal notice that he committed a crime,” the website reads.
Nolan is suspected by police, according to Vieth’s affidavit, for multiple arsons in Stowe and, according to authorities, admitted to setting eight different fires between March 30, 2019, and January of this year.
He is currently charged only with the incident at Stowe Cable.
For the Stowe Cable Systems fire, Nolan said he lit wood on the building with a fire starter and a butane lighter, as reported earlier this month.
He didn’t know why he started the fires, according to Vieth’s affidavit, but said he didn’t want to hurt anyone and “tried to set fires to buildings that no one was living in.”
Nolan also disclosed to the detectives that he has a severe drinking problem and was often “very drunk” when starting fires.
He said a traumatic brain injury resulting from a 1996 accident affects his memory.
Nolan’s attorney, David McColgin, said his hope is to have his client find an inpatient treatment opportunity.
“He is clearly in need of treatment,” McColgin said during the January hearing.
Nolan is currently being held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans.
He faces eight state charges of 2nd degree arson.