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CFO Sink Announces Arrest of Panama City Man Suspected of Being Serial Arsonist

3/27/2007

CONTACT:  Lt. Kevin Fiedor  (850) 453- 7803 or 
Nina Banister  (850) 413-2842 
PANAMA CITY – Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, announced the arrest today of a Panama City man who allegedly admitted to setting more than 20 fires in and around the Panama City area in less than two years. 
 
Jeffrey Brightbill, 40, was arrested today on a charge of first-degree arson.  Arson detectives said Brightbill admitted setting fires in the Panama City area, as well as fires in Fort Walton Beach and Destin areas and in other states. If convicted on the arson charge, he faces up to 30 years in prison, in addition to fines and possible restitution.  Other arson charges are pending. 
 
The arrest followed an investigation by a task force made up of the Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI); Panama City Police Department; Bay County Sheriff's Office; Cedar Grove Police Department; State Attorney's Office in the 14th Judicial Circuit; Panama City Beach Police Department; Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry; Panama City Fire Department; Panama City Beach Fire Department; and Bay County Fire Department.  Today’s arrest was made by the Panama City Police Department.  Detective Tommy Barron was the lead detective for the BFAI.
 
“I’m so thankful to the local Panama City investigators for getting this man off the streets before he hurt someone,” said CFO Sink.  “His actions put the lives of the people in the Panama City area at risk and our office will see to it he is held accountable.”
 
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.  Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.