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November 21, 2008

Police: Serial arsonist arrested

May involve more than dozen cases

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City Police believe they have solved more than a dozen local arson cases with the arrest of a Plattsburgh man.



"It was the hard work and determination of the detectives not willing to give up on cases when leads had run out that caused this arrest to occur," Lt. Pat Rascoe said Friday afternoon.



Police said the break came early Thursday morning when surveillance footage allegedly caught Matthew Card, 24, starting a fire in a garbage pile on Protection Avenue and attempting to ignite a vehicle on Court Street.



When detectives tracked Card down, he allegedly confessed to committing more than 17 arsons over the last few years, including four on Easter morning 2006, when he was a student at Plattsburgh State.



Police believe Card's arson spree began that day, when he allegedly set fire to a car, a garage, a couch and garbage cans in different spots around the Center City.



The accused serial arsonist allegedly continued his crimes over the years by setting a number of other fires around the Center City, including one in a trash pile that firefighters recently found about to scorch a building that housed a doctor's office and upstairs apartment.



Police believe Card at least once set a fire in his hometown of Edmeston when he returned there on break from Plattsburgh State.



The Court Street resident is now facing four counts of third-degree arson and one count of second-degree arson, all felonies.



He was arraigned on the charges in City Court Friday afternoon and requested to have a court-appointed attorney assigned to his case.



"I work two jobs, but I don't have any money saved up," he quietly told the judge.



He said little after that, other than to acknowledge that his preliminary hearing had been scheduled for next week.



Card was later escorted from the court in handcuffs and brought to Clinton County Jail on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond.



City Police are continuing to investigate the alleged arson spree.



E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at: avanvalkenburg@pressrepublican.com

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