Freeland man pleads no contest to setting fire that heavily damaged business


David Barna Jr., of Freeland, is seen leaving court after a prior appearance.



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    WILKES-BARRE — A Freeland man who claimed he was high when he allegedly set a fire that spread to a nearby restaurant pleaded no contest Wednesday to reckless burning.

    David J. Barna Jr., 24, of Adams Street, was scheduled for trial Wednesday in Luzerne County Court on charges he set the fire that heavily damaged Sorrento Restaurant & Pizzeria on Centre Street in Freeland on Dec. 18, 2015. An apartment above the business also sustained significant damage in the blaze.

    Three firefighters battling the early morning fire suffered minor injuries when they fell through the roof of the building.

    A state police fire investigator later concluded the blaze was intentionally set, and surveillance video taken from the scene showed Barna fleeing the scene, according to an affidavit. He was picked up by borough police and admitted to being under the influence of Xanax, alcohol and marijuana at the time, though he claimed he didn’t remember what happened.

    Before his trial was slated to begin, Barna struck a deal with prosecutors that saw multiple counts of arson dropped in exchange for his plea to a felony count of reckless burning, records show.

    The restaurant was open for business Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone there said owners Mark Malloy and Salvatore Manifredi were not available. They did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the plea.

    Judge Michael T. Vough ordered Barna to make full restitution. The total was undetermined Wednesday, but court documents say Barna must pay $2,000 within one week and another $1,000 per month until the full amount is paid.

    Barna remains free on bail pending sentencing May 31.

    http://timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_gavel-6.jpg
    David Barna Jr., of Freeland, is seen leaving court after a prior appearance.
    http://timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_Barna.jpgDavid Barna Jr., of Freeland, is seen leaving court after a prior appearance.

    By Joe Dolinsky

    [email protected]

    Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL

    Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL

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