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Former firefighter sentenced for arson, family vows to appeal
WARREN COUNTY-- "I didn't commit this crime." The words of former Glens Falls volunteer firefighter William Smith who is convicted of setting a string of fires at his own department.
A judge handed down an eight-year prison sentence to Smith at Warren County Court Wednesday.
Smith's family is vowing to appeal saying Smith agreed to the plea deal back in March before his attorney, Mark Zuckerman, knew about a head injury Smith suffered after falling from his bunk in jail.
While in court, Zuckerman filed a motion to rescind that guilty plea arguing that he would have pushed for a jury trial had he known about the medically documented concussion Smith received. Zuckerman says the head injury happened around the same time Smith apparently admitted to setting the fires during a jailhouse call to a friend.
The judge, however, was not persuaded.
Neither was West Glens Falls Fire Chief Michael Gordon.
"You were once a highly respected member of the company climbing the ladder to success," Gordon said to Smith in court. "You were a brother to many. We trusted you. That's all gone now."
Smith's family, however, is angry the department isn't standing by one of their own. They believe he is innocent.
"We put so much evidence forward that contradicted [the conviction] and Judge Hall didn't even want to hear it," Smith's mother Cindy Smith said. "So I'm angry. I don't know what to say right now. I'm just so shocked."
In addition to those eight years in prison Smith is ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution. $2,000 of that money will go to the West Glens Falls Fire Company.
Any sort of appeal could take several months.