Man charged in massive New Year’s Day warehouse fire has case delayed

It will be three weeks before a homeless man finds out the next step in his arson case.

Joshua Lamb was scheduled to appear Tuesday morning in Butler County Common Pleas Court for his pretrial hearing, but it was rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 26, according to court records.

Many court cases have been postponed due to the coronavirus.

Lamb, 35, was charged with arson for allegedly starting a fire on New Year’s Day at the former Middletown Paperboard warehouse at 300 S. Verity Parkway. He was indicted of arson, a fourth-degree felony, and aggravated arson, a second-degree felony.

He remains in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond that was set at the municipal court level.

Earlier, defense attorney Robert Qucsai III entered not guilty pleas to the charges and requested Judge Charles Pater release Lamb so he could work.

Qucsai had said Lamb would be living at Hope House and has a job lined up. In addition, the attorney said Lamb would go to treatment.

But Pater noted a pre-trial services officer indicated that Hope House directors said Lamb would not be permitted to return because of the pending charges.

The judge ruled the bond would remain the same, noting the seriousness of the charges and Lamb’s lack of a permanent address.

The fire at the abandoned building burned for days and is estimated to cost the city more than $130,000 in demolition costs and firefighter overtime.

The 11-acre site of 61 parcels had an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 square feet of space.

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