PATCHOGUE - A convicted crook who was out on parole pleaded not guilty today to burglarizing and then burning down the home of an Air National Guard reservist currently stationed overseas.
As News 12 Long Island has reported, the East Patchogue home that belonged to Eric Carver was burned down on Dec. 27 while he was deployed in Africa with the Air National Guard. Carver, who is also a state trooper, is still on his tour of duty, but is aware that his house has been destroyed.
Prosecutors say 33-year-old Harry Fleishman Jr., of Patchogue, let himself into Carver's home using a key that he stole from a neighbor who was keeping an eye on Carver's house. Police say Fleishman stole Carver's off-duty handgun, a holster and some ammunition before setting the home on fire.
Neighbors, including Patricia Sitler, have helped raise more than $20,000 to help rebuild Carver's home when he returns in a month. Sitler says she speaks with Carver frequently, and says he's crushed because there were irreplaceable family belongings that were lost in the fire at his home.
Fleishman pleaded not guilty today and was ordered held on $1 million bond. If convicted, he could face life in prison because of his status as a persistent felony offender.