Guilty Verdict In Luzerne County Arson Case
WILKES-BARRE — A jury in Luzerne County has returned guilty verdicts in all seven counts in a Luzerne County arson case.
Wednesday was day seven for the trial of Gail Schneider.
Her attorney said she’s been wrongly accused and there’s no physical evidence connecting her to an arson in Conyngham in 2010.
Prosecutors call Schneider a liar who was trying to get even with her former landlord.
The building’s owner praised the work of all the investigators.
“State police, the Commonwealth did a fantastic job. It’s been a long fight and a long road and hopefully everybody can move on now,” said owner Ken Temborski.
For six days, jurors in Luzerne County heard testimony from fire experts and from tenants who escaped their apartments in 2010 when flames tore through the Lantern Lane building in Conyngham.
State police said Schneider set the fire at the landmark building, endangering the lives of firefighters and people sleeping inside and causing $1.3 million in damage.
Schneider denied any involvement when she testified on the stand. Her attorney said she wouldn’t burn down a building over a security deposit and argued it’s more likely that bad wiring or a rodent inside the old building accidentally started the fire.
Among those taking the stand against Schneider were tenants of Lantern Lane and fire fighters who responded that night, including one who was injured.
“The building back flashed or back drafted, the ladder lifted up and landed on my foot, and I was the one that was taken to the hospital that night,” said Daniel Basala, the rescue crew with the Sugarloaf Township Fire Department.
“Justice I definitely feel was served today. Now I can move on with my life. It’s been a long two and half years. I don’t have to live in fear anymore,” said Nicole Buak, who lived at Lantern Lane.
Even with all the testimony, prosecutors admitted arson cases are difficult to try.
“They’re typically circumstantial, they’re typically some of the toughest cases to prove,” said Shannon Crake, an assistant district attorney for Luzerne County.
After the verdict, the judge revoked Schneider’s bail and she was taken immediately to jail.
But despite the victory, Lantern Lane’s owner said there were no winners in this case.
“I feel bad for both, I feel bad for all the tenants, everybody lost, everybody lost everything they owned,” said Temborski.
Prosecutors said Schneider threatened to get even with her former landlord, and she lied about where she was the night of the fire.
Prosecutors also said emails and web searches about lighter fluid show Gail Schneider was vindictive.
Schneider’s bail was revoked by the judge and she was taken into custody.