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CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Sentencing for Martin County Man Convicted of Arson


Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE – Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced that Joseph Edward Haas has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for setting a house fire in 2012 that injured four Martin County firefighters. Haas was convicted last month for attempted manslaughter, arson and arson resulting in injury. He also faces $1.3 million in restitution costs.
“Florida’s firefighters risk their lives for the protection of others, and any action that deliberately puts their lives at risk will not be tolerated,” said CFO Atwater. “This conviction is the latest example that arsonists will be held accountable for their life-threatening crimes.”
In late December 2012, Martin County Fire Rescue personnel responded to a fire on S.W. Blue Water Way, in Stuart. Four members of the search and rescue team were injured while inside the residence checking for occupants who may have been trapped. A subsequent investigation into the fire conducted by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Martin County Fire Department and the Martin County State Attorney’s Office provided supporting evidence that led to the defendant’s arrest on January 24, 2013.
A circuit court jury required less than one hour to reach a guilty verdict on all counts.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. 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 state spending.