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Arson defendant wants evidence turned over

The 2010 Conyngham blaze caused an estimated $1 million in damage.

WILKES-BARRE – An attorney for a Berwick woman charged with setting a fire that ravaged a Conyngham apartment building and commercial complex in September has asked that a surveillance video and phone records be handed over in his attempt to have charges dismissed against his client.

Attorney William Miele filed court papers Friday asking prosecutors to hand over a surveillance video from a PNC Bank and AT&T phone records relating to a Sept. 5 fire his client, Gail Schneider, is charged with setting at the former Lantern Lane complex on Main Street.

In January, Miele filed court papers stating prosecutors do not have enough evidence to charge his client with six counts of arson and a single count of criminal mischief.

Miele said insufficient evidence was presented at Schneider’s preliminary hearing and that charges should be dismissed.

According to court papers, Valley Regional Fire and Rescue responded to the two-story Lantern Lane complex at 314-316 S. Main St. just after 2:30 a.m. after a neighbor called 911.

The building encompasses four businesses on the first floor and four apartments on the second. Extensive fire damage and severe water and smoke damage exceeded $1 million, police said.

A fire scene examination determined the blaze originated at the top of the rear stairway leading to the second-floor apartments.

Police learned Schneider, who lived in an apartment at the building in September 2009, had been cited with disorderly conduct and was evicted.

She had filed a civil complaint against local real estate developer Kenneth Temborski, police said, for the return of a $790 security deposit. A district judge ruled in favor of Temborski in December 2009.

Police later searched a computer belonging to Schneider, on which they found searches for specific fire investigation information about lighter fluid and how to blow up a car. Police said Schneider also wrote in a text message regarding Temborski that “paybacks are a bitch.”

Miele said in court papers that just because his client’s vehicle was parked near the scene of the fire does not mean that Schneider started the fire.

He also argued there is not enough evidence to support that Schneider set the fire just because Schneider was angry with Temborski for evicting her.

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