Teens charged with arson, conspiracy - Press-Republican: Education

Teens charged with arson, conspiracy

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Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:28 am

NORTH ELBA — Two students at Mountain Lakes Academy face felony charges in connection with a smoke bomb set off indoors.

According to State Police reports, troopers responded to a report of arson at the school at 7:45 p.m. Sunday. Fire-alarm activation also deployed Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department.

A 14-year-old male student, whose name is not being released due to his age, and 16-year-old Elwood W. Verity III of Lido Beach, N.Y., were “arrested for setting off smoke bombs and burning a portion of a carpet inside the academy. The two also attacked staff members at the academy,” State Police said in a news release.

Mountain Lakes Academy Director Carol Prevost said Monday that the two students lit off a single smoke bomb.

There was no damage to the facility, she told the Press-Republican.

“There was no flame or fire. The kids thought this would be a prank.”

Prevost characterized the alleged attack by the students as their effort to “interfere with responding staff.”

She could not comment further on the nature of the alleged physical attack, but said all staffers at Mountain Lakes have been cleared to return to their jobs.


State Police Troop B Public Information Officer Trooper Jennifer Fleishman said the students had more than one smoke bomb and were attempting to light another when Mountain Lakes staff stopped them.

“In his (Verity’s) attempt to light a second one, staff was able to intervene,” she told the Press-Republican.

“Of staff members that intervened, one was struck in the face. The resisting-arrest charge stems from the staff trying to put them in custody. They (students) struggled and refused to cooperate.”

The smoke bomb was set off in a common area, not in a student’s room, Prevost said.

“While students involved may have viewed this as a harmless prank, we take these situations very seriously,” she said in a statement released Monday.

“We appreciate the response of local emergency personnel and are thankful there was no damage.”


The 14-year-old was charged with second-degree arson and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. Conspiracy in New York law pertains to “intent” that results in a Class B or Class C felonies.

The younger teen was taken to the Capital District Secure Juvenile Facility in Albany, police said.


Verity was charged with second-degree arson and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies, and third-degree assault, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of fireworks, all misdemeanors.

The 16-year-old was sent to Essex County Jail in lieu of $20,000 cash or $40,000 bail bond, police said.

According to a sheriff’s deputy who answered the telephone, Verity remained incarcerated at the jail as of Monday afternoon.

Mountain Lakes Academy is a nonprofit school for behaviorally challenged adolescent males, ages 12 to 21, according to the school’s website.

“Students are typically referred to our residential treatment program by departments of social service, probation and committees on special education,” the school’s description asserts.

River Road in North Elba was closed Sunday about a half mile east of Mountain Lakes Academy due to flooding.

The road’s closure did not impede the emergency response from Lake Placid Fire Department, according to staff at Fire Station.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com.