Prosecutor: Stevens student pleads guilty to criminal mischief for starting dorm fire


An 18-year-old Stevens Institute of Technology student pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for starting a dorm fire back in November, evacuating 150 students from the building and requiring one Stevens police officer to receive minor medical treatment, authorities said.

The DeBaun Auditorium at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

On Thursday, February 6th, Thomas Apostolico, 18, of Toms River, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal mischief for starting a fire in the basement of a freshman dormitory on the Stevens campus last November, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced.

While no students were injured in the fire, all 150 residents of the dorm were evacuated and one Stevens police offcer was treated and released from St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston for breathing discomfort.

On November 26th, 2019, shortly after 6:00 a.m., members of the Stevens Institute of Technology Police Department and the Hoboken Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Humphrey Hall dormitory at 1 Castle Point on the Hudson in Hoboken.

Upon arrival, they encountered an active fire that was concentrated in a garbage can located outside of the basement laundry room, along with heavy smoke conditions.

A responding police officer went to the basement and found the trash bin fully engulfed in flames.  The officer was able to use a nearby extinguisher to put out the fire, but he had to evacuate due to heavy smoke conditions.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined that Apostolico, a freshman at the university, had set fire to a dryer sheet and then threw it into the garbage can where he had previously discarded fireworks causing the fire.

On Thursday, Apostolico pleaded guilty to criminal mischief, a third-degree crime.

As a condition of the guilty plea, Apostolico agreed to pay a total of $7,665.50 in restitution for damages to the dorm and is not permitted to return to campus or make contact with any school officials.

Suarez credited the Regional Arson Task Force and the Stevens Institute of Technology Police Department for their work on the investigation.

Sentencing in this case has been scheduled for March 25th before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale, who accepted the guilty plea.

The state is represented in this case by Assistant Prosecutor Howard Bell of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

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