An Albion man is facing an arson charge related to a flash fire at his home last January that occurred when he reportedly was mixing rocket fuel.
Joseph Forest Tilly, 36, was arrested Wednesday and taken to the Kennebec County jail on charges with arson and criminal use of explosives.
At Tilly’s initial court appearance Friday at the Capital Judicial Center via video from the jail, a prosecutor said agents executing a search warrant at Tilly’s home on Thursday found hundreds of pounds of chemicals considered precursors to explosive materials, much of those purchased using his father’s credit card.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan asked the judge to set bail at $25,000 cash, saying, “There are significant public safety concerns in his case, your honor, not only for the community but for the safety of his father as well,” Madigan told Judge Cynthia Montgomery. Madigan also requested conditions of bail prohibiting Tilly from returning to the home where the explosion occurred, from contact with his father and from possessing precursor chemicals and any incendiary devices.
Madigan said Tilly spent some $30,000 of his father’s money, purchasing other items as well.
Montgromery imposed the $25,000 bail with all the conditions, saying, “I have some serious concerns about the public safety issues.”
Madigan said there was a fire at Tilly’s house on Clark Road in Albion on Jan. 26, 2018, and that the fire department was called.
“The defendant said he was mixing rocket fuel in the resident and it ignited” Madigan said. “He actually videotaped himself doing this.” Madigan said the videotape on YouTube showed a fire in a can used to hold 50-caliber ammunition. “There were flames shooting upward 10 feet toward the ceiling,” Madigan said.
The prosecutor said a full investigation began in April by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and that Tilly admitting possessing or attempting to purchase the chemicals.
He also said Tilly posted ads on line seeking to buy empty carbon dioxide cannisters and a fire marshal investigator acting under cover went to sell him some.
Madigan said that Tilly told the agent he could never mix the chemicals because of his felony conviction.
Madigan said there was a separate, on-going investigation by Maine State Police regarding Attorney William Baghdoyan, representing Tilly as lawyer of the day, argued for “much lower bail,” saying the event occurred eight months ago and Tilly used a fire extinguisher himself to put it out. Baghdoyan also said there are no laws against possessing the items and investigators found.
“This is not to make explosives … or to blow things up,”” Baghdoyan “This is to fuel hobby rockets. He tells me that he was selling some of these items to make money on the Internet.
What the state’s trying to do is deny him bail.”
Baghdoyan also said Tilly suffers from a number of different diagnoses, has no income, lives with his father, takes medication and goes to weekly counseling sessions in Waterville.
This story will be updated.
Betty Adams — 621-5631
Joseph Forest Tilly