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CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater Announces the Arrest of Arsonist in Pensacola Clinic Fire

1/5/2012

Contact:                                                                                           Anna Alexopoulos                                                                                                     (850) 413-2842     

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Bobby Joe Rogers of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a joint investigation involving the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The investigation determined that Rogers set fire to a clinic, causing approximately $300,000 in damage.

“We are thankful that no one was injured during this incident and for the collaboration between all of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case,” said CFO Atwater, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. “I would like to also thank members of the Pensacola community for providing the critical information needed to promptly resolve this case.”

On January 1, 2012, the Pensacola Fire Department responded to a fire at the American Family Planning Clinic located at 6770 N. 9th Avenue in Pensacola, Florida and requested the assistance of the BFAI to investigate the cause of the fire. The investigation determined that the fire was intentionally set.

The details surrounding this fire initiated the response of members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF is composed of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies whose primary work is to identify and disrupt terrorist activity.  The following agencies cooperated in this investigation; the Florida State Fire Marshal Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, the Pensacola Fire Department, the Pensacola Police Department, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service.  
“This arrest demonstrates the strategic value of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the high level of cooperation among the numerous agencies involved,” said Julius Halas, Director, Division of State Fire Marshal.

Members of the community came forward with information that led to the arrest of Rogers, who is being held at the Escambia County Jail pending a federal indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The federal charges are a result of violation of federal criminal law concerning use of explosive materials and Rogers could face up to 20 years in prison.

To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766). A reward of up to $5,000 may be paid for a tip that leads directly to an arrest and conviction.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of State Fire Marshal.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.