N.Y. Soldier Charged with Killing Officers Previously Accused in Fire

June 19, 2005

The New York soldier accused of killing two superior officers and making it look like an enemy attack was accused by an insurer of masking the cause of a fire that destroyed his home.

The allegation is included in court documents in a civil suit bought against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance by Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, 37, who was charged last week with two counts of premeditated murder in the June 7 deaths of two officers with National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division in Iraq.

Martinez’ home in Cohoes, near Albany, was damaged by fire in Dec. 18, 2002. Police records and records from a fire investigator hired on his behalf determined the fire to be accidental. Martinez denied any involvement in the fire.

But the insurer, in court documents, pointed to Martinez, who has an associate’s degree in electronics, the Time Herald-Record of Middletown reported.

“We believe that the plaintiff, utilizing his knowledge of electrical wiring, has cleverly created the impression that this fire was of electrical origin,” Liberty Mutual lawyer Thomas O’Connor wrote in court papers in September 2004.

Court papers reviewed by the newspaper also show that Martinez was five months behind on his mortgage payments and his electric service was being turned off for nonpayment when the fire damaged his home. Neighbors said the family moved out about two weeks before the fire.

The civil lawsuit in the case was scheduled to go to trial in September, though what will become of that given his arrest is unclear, his lawyer in the civil case, Eugene Spada, told the newspaper.

Cohoes Detective Tom Ross told The Troy Record that 18 months after the fire, a caretaker overseeing rehabilitation work on the house reported finding in the basement a 47-pound bomb. Police contacted the Army, and the bomb was removed. Cohoes Police Chief Joe Fahd said firefighters had immediately found in the house several unarmed artillery shells, which were checked by a Watervliet Arsenal demolition team and eventually confiscated.

After the fire, Martinez moved his wife and two teenagers to his parents’ house in the Schaghticoke, just outside of Troy. He worked at the Watervliet Arsenal before going full-time with the National Guard.

Martinez was sent to Iraq in January and had been scheduled to return home at the end of 2005, military officials said. He is being held in Kuwait, accused of murdering Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, of Suffern, N.Y., and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen, of Milford, Pa., with an explosive device, and has been assigned counsel.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.