On the early morning of Wednesday February 10, 2010, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a suspicious fire at Kilcoin’s Tavern on State Route 55 in Swan Lake.
When the Swan Lake Fire Department arrived at the scene, during a heavy snow storm, they found the building fully involved. An investigation by the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire determined that the fire had been intentionally set. Detective Sergeant Don Starner, who was the original lead investigator on the case, developed information that pointed to the business owners, Nicholas Motta, 43 and Dominc Motta, 58, both of Islandia, NY. The Mottas were leasing the building. Starner worked with The Suffolk County Police Department, The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI to develop the case.
“When Starner retired, Detective Corporal Cyrus Barnes picked up the investigation”, said Sheriff Mike Schiff.
“He did a great job pulling it all together with the other agencies”.
A third suspect, Anthony Perso, 32, of Medford, NY was identified as starting the fire. All three men were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in White Plains early this year and plead guilty Tuesday, November 10, 2015 to attempted mail fraud for filing a false insurance claim. They are expected to be sentenced in January or February. Under Federal guidelines they could each face a maximum sentence of twenty years in jail.
“Some suspects think they can commit a crime in Sullivan County, leave, and that we won’t find them”, said Sheriff Schiff.
“In this case, 5 years went by but we never gave up”.
The Sheriff thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting these defendants noting that arson cases can be difficult to solve. The Sheriff’s Office received additional assistance from the Sullivan County District Attorney, the Swan Lake Fire Department and the Town of Bethel Building Department.
(YWN Sullivan County Newsroom)