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Northfield man charged with torching own house

Sunday News Correspondent

November 01. 2014 7:53PM

NORTHFIELD - A registered sex offender who was indicted this summer on a tax evasion charge was arrested Friday morning on four counts of arson for allegedly setting his own Granite Street house on fire in 2012.

Ronald Martin, 66, of Hill, was arrested without incident at his home in Hill on the arson charges, which include falsely claiming insurance money for a fire that he allegedly set, said Northfield police Sgt. Michael Hutchinson.

"He is being charged with setting his own house on fire and falsely saying that he had not done so," Hutchinson said.

Martin is also being charged with felony theft and cruelty to animals for incidents unrelated to the arson case, Hutchinson said.

Martin, who was indicted in March for failing to report $400,000 in business earnings from 2008 and 2010, was convicted in 1993 of eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, and is listed with the state's sex offender registry.

Firefighters were called to his home at 45 Granite St., on Feb. 24, 2012, at 8:19 p.m. and found the house engulfed in flames.

Firefighters encountered "a large volume of fire" from the vacant home, and the flames were so intense a ladder truck was needed from the Franklin Fire Department, authorities said.

The home was a loss. Martin, who had a garage and had ducks and a rabbit living on the property, was at the scene the next morning with investigators. Firefighters were able to save Martin's barn, which had antiques and antique cars inside.

"I'm all set," he said when asked for comment that morning.

Martin was ordered held on $550,000 cash bail, Hutchinson said, and will be arraigned Monday at 10 a.m. in Franklin District Court.

In addition to the charges against Martin from Northfield police, federal authorities are filing at least one charge against him, Hutchinson said, though Hutchinson would not give further details of the federal case.

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