A Wilmington man has been sentenced in connection with two arson fires in Bel Air, MD, that caused $1 million in damage to commercial buildings.
The conviction came after the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives concluded two separate arson investigations.
The blazes were linked to Richard Benjamin Lodeski, 44. He is also under investigation for links to fires in Delaware.
The first arson fire occurred around 11:30 p.m. on June 15, 2020, at a Shell gas station in Bel Air. The fire was confined to the building’s roof.
The second arson fire occurred on June 20, 2020, just before 3:30 a.m., fire companies were called to 1226 Bel Air Road for a building fire. Firefighters arrived and discovered two separate buildings on fire. The buildings, located behind the former Birroteca restaurant, were two structures housing eight different businesses. Firefighters were able to contain the separate blazes within40 minutes.
It is estimated that the fires caused over $1 million in damage to three businesses.
During the investigation, Lodeski was connected to other incidents, including arson in Baltimore County and burglary in Ocean City. Investigators are working with Delaware law enforcement in possible arson cases in the Dewey Beach area.
One fire destroyed a landmark lighthouse and a restaurant. The lighthouse will not be rebuilt.
On May 26, 2021, Lodeski admitted his guilt in Harford County Circuit Court, according to a Fire Marshal’s office release. In exchange for his guilty plea, he was sentenced to 60 years. All but 10 years were suspended.