Dalton Man Gets Year in Jail For Burning Political Sign
|This hay bale sign at Holiday Brook Farm went up in flames shortly after it was created. The perpetrator was sentenced to a year in jail.|
Judge Mark Pasquariello sentenced 50-year-old Lonnie Durfee on Thursday to one year at the Berkshire County House of Correction on a single count of burning personal property.
The Berkshire District Attorney's Office secured the maximum jail sentence as part of a plea deal.
Durfee set ablaze 20 plastic-covered hay bales that were near the roadway at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton on Friday, Oct. 9. The bales had spelled out support for the Biden/Harris presidential ticket.
Durfee later apologized to farm owner Dicken Crane and reportedly told him he was still grieving the death of his son, Jacob Durfee, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in August at the age of 23.
After the fire, a new sign, smaller hay-bale sign was created saying "Love, Unity, Respect" and "vote."
In an unagreed plea previously presented to Judge Paul Smyth, the DA's office requested the court to sentence Durfee to the maximum penalty of one year. Durfee's attorney requested time served. Smyth ordered Durfee to serve one year and the defendant withdrew his plea.
On Wednesday, Durfee appeared before Pasquariello and opted to accept the plea.
"The use of fire has a deeply rooted association with political and civil rights intimidation. This fire victimized not only the property owners but represented a threat to entire communities," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said. "This sentence sends a message that our community will not accept those types of actions and that civility and respect will prevail."
Dalton Police, State Police, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal investigated the arson. Investigators arrested Durfee the following day.