COMPTON ( — A former deputy chief for the Compton Fire Department has been arrested for allegedly starting a fire at headquarters and stealing thousands of dollars in radio equipment.

Marcel Melanson, 37, was arrested Wednesday without incident at his Torrance home on charges of felony arson and grand theft, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The arrest stems from what investigators say was a suspicious fire that broke out at Compton Fire Department headquarters on Acacia Avenue on December 11, 2011.

The Compton Fire Chief requested the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau to assist in looking into the case on January 4, 2012.

Authorities conducted a joint investigation with arson investigators from the Long Beach Fire Department and Montebello Fire Department.

They believe Melanson deliberately set fire to the facility to conceal theft of Motorola radios worth thousands of dollars with the intent of selling them over the internet.

The radios were purchased by Compton’s city government in connection with the planned re-establishment of the Compton Police Department, LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore said.

The Compton City Council dropped the plan to re-establish its own police department because of the city’s financial difficulties. The sheriff’s department continues to provide police services for the city.

Melanson’s case has been submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Melanson was an employee of the Compton Fire Department for over 15 years. He was terminated earlier this year.

He remains in custody in lieu of $250,000.00 bail.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.


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