Man charged with setting string of New York City hotel fires

September 21, 2013 4:47:48 PM PDT
A New Jersey man is under arrest on charges of setting a string of fires at New York City hotels where he worked as a security employee.

Fire marshals arrested 30-year old security manager Mariano Barbosa Jr. of Union City Saturday, and charged him with setting eight fires over the last four years at two different hotels.

Some guests at the Yotel in Midtown were disgusted when they learned of the allegations. Fire marshals say that over the last three years, Barbosa set five fires on higher floors, 17-24.

"Why would he want to do arson? To get out of work?" said tourist Jamie Sonnex.

That is exactly why, according to investigators. They believe Barbosa set the fires in hallways, stairwells and exits to keep guests from getting out quickly, and to give the hotels a bad name.

"The guy sounds like an idiot, I don't even want to be in here now," Sonnex adds.

Sources tell Eyewitness News while the hotels were being evacuated, Barbosa allegedly would go into one of the hotel suites so he could hang out, drink and party.

Investigators believe Barbosa did the same thing when he worked as a security guard at the SoHo Grand hotel - setting three fires between 2009 and 2010.

"It's disturbing that an individual charged with the safety of hotel occupants would callously endanger their lives, and the lives of firefighters, for personal gain," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

The management at Yotel issued a statement saying,

"We are deeply concerned by the allegations against Mr. Barbosa, and we are working with the New York Fire Department and the NYPD to provide whatever information they need."