Two charged in area arsons

JOHNSONBURG - Criminal charges have been filed in district court against a father and son for their alleged respective roles in arsons perpetrated in Johnsonburg and Ridgway in 2008 and most recently in 2012. Francis Anthony Milliard, 54, and Anthony Karl Milliard, 28, both of Ridgway, have been charged with multiple counts of felony arson and related offenses, felony criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief, recklessly endangering another person, insurance fraud, and disorderly conduct. According to affidavits of probable cause, on Dec. 4, 2008, the Pennsylvania State Police were contacted by the Johnsonburg Fire Department in response to a fire at 115 First Ave. in Johnsonburg, at which point a fire marshal investigation was requested and the cause of the fire subsequently determined to be arson. Tpr. Michael S. McCracken, a certified fire investigator, stationed at PSP Clearfield, collected fire debris evidence from the scene which was then analyzed at the state police crime lab in Greensburg. According to the affidavit, the laboratory identified an accelerant used in the fire. According to the affidavits, in April 2012, Anthony Milliard requested to meet with Officer Bridgette Asti of the Ridgway Borough Police. Anthony Milliard told Asti that he had set the fire at 115 First Ave. under the direction of his father, Francis Anthony Milliard, with the intention of collecting insurance money for the loss. Anthony Milliard said his father owned the house and had promised it to him. He said approximately $6,000 in repairs had been performed on the home. In his conversation with Asti, Anthony Milliard admitted to priming the residence with an accelerant and igniting it. Milliard said the combustion "actually blew him from the porch."Anthony Milliard said that his father said he needed money and wanted the house burned so he could collect money from the insurance policy on the home.According to the affidavits, Anthony said his father took him to the 115 First Ave. property in the early-morning hours of Dec. 4, 2012 and provided him with the gasoline and rag before directing him to go inside and start the fire. Anthony Milliard said that his father did collect the insurance money following the incident, and affidavits stated that insurance records show Francis Milliard as filing a claim for fire loss with Milville Mutual Insurance Company the following day, receiving $8,888.49 on March 6, 2009. According to reports, a warrant for Anthony Milliard's arrest was requested by Tpr. Greg Agosti following Milliard's April 2012 conversation with Asti. Following the May 30, 2012 fire at the 521 West Main St. home of Pauline Smith in Ridgway Township which was deemed arson by investigators, Asti and Agosti requested an interview with Anthony Milliard.During an interview held on July 10, 2012 at the Ridgway Borough Police Department, Anthony Milliard admitted to igniting a gasoline-soaked rag and throwing it onto the back porch of the 521 West Main St. property. Milliard said the neighboring residence, that of Michelle Park, at 519 West Main St., was the intended target. According to the affidavits, in his interview Anthony Milliard said that on the night of the fire, he was awoken by his father at approximately 3 a.m. and told to "get ready." According to his statement, the two left together, traveling toward Ridgway in a 2002 Dodge van owned by Francis Milliard. According to the affidavits, Anthony Milliard said that he was given a glass jar of gasoline by his father, a pair of black gloves, a rag, and a ski mask. Anthony Milliard said his father then informed him that they were going to burn down the residence of Michelle Park. The van was parked near the West End Grocery Store and the residence of Michelle Park pointed out to Anthony Milliard by his father with instructions to set it on fire, the affidavits said.The two fled the scene, driving down West Main Street and Grant Road, where they disposed of the empty glass jar and gloves. Anthony Milliard said that when he realized the next day that the wrong house was burned, his father became infuriated and said he would make him return to burn the Park home at a later date. According to affidavits, Anthony Milliard said his father was angry with Michelle Park and "wanted to destroy her home." Pick up a copy of the Friday, July 27, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.