Man accused of taking car, setting it on fire is held in prison
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 20,2013
BENNINGTON — A local man arrested in a drug sweep in January is now facing a life sentence after police said he recently escaped from furlough, took a handicapped woman’s car and set it on fire.
Joshua R. Finefrock, 27, of Bennington pleaded innocent Monday in Bennington criminal court to felony charges of possessing stolen property and third-degree arson. Those charges were modified because Finefrock was charged as a habitual offender.
When a defendant has been convicted of three or more felonies, he or she can be charged as a habitual offender, a sentencing modification that allows a judge to issue a life prison sentence.
In a separate docket, Finefrock was charged with escaping from custody while on furlough, a felony charge that did not carry the habitual offender enhancement.
Finefrock is being held at the Rutland jail because his probation was revoked.
Finefrock was one of about 50 people arrested during a drug sweep in Bennington County in January. He was charged with felony counts of selling cocaine and conspiracy to sell drugs.
In September, he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and the state dismissed the charge of selling cocaine.
Trooper Robert Zink of the Vermont State Police said in an affidavit that the Department of Corrections issued a warrant for Finefrock’s arrest because he could not be located at the address he provided his parole officer.
The parole officer reported that a woman at the address said Finefrock had been told he could no longer live there. Finefrock did report he left that home and did not give the state a new address, the parole officer said.
Zink said Sgt. James Lynch of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department found Finefrock in Sheldon on Nov. 14 but that Finefrock fled while being arrested. Police used dogs and a helicopter but were unable to locate him.
On the morning of Nov. 15, police received a report that a car had been stolen from the driveway of a handicapped woman. The woman said her insurance would not cover the stolen car.
A few hours before the car was reported stolen, the Bennington Rural Fire Department responded to a report of a car on fire on Green Mountain National Forest land in Woodford. The car was destroyed.
Police said they were able to track Finefrock after he sent a text message to a Pownal man.
The Pownal man’s car was spotted by police and Finerock was arrested, Zink said.
Finefrock agreed to talk to police if he could have a cigarette, Zink said.
Finefrock also agreed to cooperate if the Pownal man was not charged. State’s Attorney Erica Marthage agreed, Zink said, and Finefrock admitted to taking the car and setting it on fire.
Zink said Finefrock could face federal charges for setting fire to the car on National Forest Service land.