Philip Bradley Wolfel, 23, of 5448 Rasselas Rd., Wilcox, pleaded guilty to one count of arson and related offenses, a grade-one felony, when he appeared before 59th Judicial District Judge Richard Masson in the main courtroom of the Elk County Courthouse during the morning session of Return Day on Friday. As a result of his guilty plea, Wolfel was sentenced to incarceration for a period of no less than four years to no more than 15 years at the State Diagnostic and Classification Center in Pittsburgh.
Wolfel was accused of starting an early-morning fire at 204 Depot St. in Ridgway, which placed others in danger of death or bodily injury.
According to information detailed by District Attorney Brad Kraus Friday morning, police were dispatched to an active fire at the Depot Street residence at 12:51 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2010. The structure ended up being a total loss.
Following the fire, the Chief of the Ridgway Fire Department contacted the Deputy Fire Marshal, who conducted an investigation and concluded with a reasonable degree of certainty that the fire had started in the front porch area of the residence and was likely due to the introduction of a flame to a couch and other material that was located there.
Wolfel was sentenced to incarceration at the State Diagnostic and Classification Center in Pittsburgh for a period of no less than four years to no more than 15 years, with credit for time served since Aug. 17, 2010. Wolfel is not eligible for the recidivism risk reduction incentive because he was convicted of a crime of violence. He must also pay monthly supervision fees in the amount of $35 upon parole, prosecution costs of 353.75, and restitution in the amount of $51,361.55 to Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.
Had Wolfel not chosen to plead guilty, jury selection for the matter was scheduled for June 13.