Investigators have not determined whether an early Tuesday morning fire outside the office of former Williamsburg attorney Ron Reynolds was intentionally set.
Kentucky State Police Arson Investigator Brian Lewis and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Agent Todd Tremaine spent over two hours at the fire scene Tuesday morning investigating.
|The law office of former attorney Ron Reynolds was damaged by a fire Tuesday. Two trash cans were blazing against the building when officials arrived. The cause of the blaze is not yet know.|
Samples of materials collected are being sent to the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab for analysis, but so far officials haven’t indicated what caused the fire, which was in a pair of plastic trashcans located outside the office.
Part of the 225 North Third Street office has been converted into an apartment, and a woman, who is renting the apartment, noticed the fire about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday and called 911, according to Williamsburg Fire Chief James Privett.
Williamsburg Police Sgt. Mike Taylor was on patrol and was the first person to arrive at the scene.
Privett said Taylor used a 2′ X 4′ to try and move the burning material away from the building prior to the arrival of firefighters, who had a three-minute response time.
Firefighter Troy Thomas arrived with a fire truck and he and Taylor quickly extinguished the blaze.
The exterior of the building primarily suffered minor heat damage. Some pieces of vinyl under the eaves of the roof, which were above the blaze, melted and were hanging from the building.
"It could have been worse if we hadn’t gotten here when we did, and Mike Taylor hadn’t been out on patrol," Privett said. "We don’t know what caused it. We just know that two garbage cans were sitting there at that time, which is what we had to put out when we got here."
This was part of the reason that arson investigators were contacted.
Reynolds has had his share of legal problems in recent months, and is currently free awaiting sentencing in federal court.
On March 16, Reynolds, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right in U.S. District Court in Lexington.
Reynolds has agreed to forfeit $199,500 to the government, which represents the net profit he made on the deal. His plea agreement calls for him to make reasonable efforts to pay the money prior to his sentencing on June 29.
Reynolds admitted that on at least three occasions between 2004 and 2007, he and Hodge conspired to extort money from individuals charged with felony drug offenses in state court in exchange for favorable consideration in their cases, according to a court document.
Specifically, Reynolds admitted to making cash payments totaling $57,500 to the former sheriff so that Hodge would refer individuals charged with crimes to Reynolds for representation.
Each of these individuals expected and understood that they would face reduced charges and/or they wouldn’t face any period of incarceration if they hired Reynolds based on the sheriff’s recommendation, according to Reynolds plea deal.
Reynolds was suspended from practicing law effective March 17, which is the day after he pleaded guilty.
The case was investigated by Tremaine, who was helping investigate the blaze Tuesday morning outside Reynolds’ office.
Nine firefighters were on the scene until about 2:20 a.m., and then two firefighters were posted outside the building to guard it until investigators arrived about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.
The blaze completely melted the two garbage cans into a two-inch thick piece of plastic with pieces of garbage and debris partially inside it.
Privett said that no one had been around the garbage cans since about 5 p.m. Monday.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that the building was burglarized about one month ago.
Initially when police got the report about the burglary, they assumed that it was Reynolds office. Bird said they found out at that time that Reynolds had sectioned it off and rented out the back half as an apartment, which is what got burglarized.
He said that only a small amount of change was taken during the burglary, and that the burglar passed up other items.