TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Troy Police Department, and the Troy Fire Department were awarded the Alton Lewis Fire Investigation Team of the Year Award last Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI). The association hands out three awards annually in the State of New York, which had never been won by a Rensselaer County agency before.
The award stems from an arson investigation completed in April, when Matthew Woelfersheim, 45, the former Schaghticoke Fire Chief, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after taking a plea deal. Woelfersheim entered a building on 4th Street in Troy on Sept. 2, 2020, and lit a bag of charcoal on fire, which set the building ablaze. He ran from the scene but was tracked down and arrested a few hours later.
The building sustained fire, smoke, water, and structural damage as a result of the blaze. There were two people home at the time, who escaped from the burning building unscathed.
Woelfersheim pleaded guilty to torching the building on Feb. 1, 2022. After his 12 years in prison are up, the Honorable Jennifer G. Sober also ordered Woelfersheim to serve five years’ probation.
The case was investigated by the Troy Fire Department, Assistant Chief David Paul, the Troy Police Department, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control Investigator John Fairclough, and Sergeant Martin Furciniti. It was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Hauf.
Those agencies accepted the Alton Lewis Fire Investigation Team of the Year Award at the annual banquet on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. The event was held in Watkins Glen, New York.