A Toms River man said he started the fire in his guilty plea to criminal mischief after igniting the flames in the basement of a freshman dormitory on the Stevens Institute of Technology campus last November, announced Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.

Thomas Apostolico, 18, set fire to a dryer sheet and then tossed it into the garbage can where he previously tossed away some fireworks.

While no students were injured in the fire, all 150 residents of the dorm were evacuated and one Hoboken firefighter was treated and released from St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston for breathing discomfort.

It was around 6:00 am on the day of the fire that members of the Stevens Institute of Technology Police Department and the Hoboken Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the Humphrey Hall dormitory at 1 Castle Point on the Hudson in Hoboken.

When they arrived they spotted an active fire in the garbage can located outside of the basement laundry room, along with heavy smoke conditions and fully engulfed in flames.

A police officer was able to use a nearby extinguisher to put out the fire, but he had to evacuate due to heavy smoke conditions.

Apostolico pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3(a)(1), a third-degree crime.

As a condition of the guilty plea, Apostolico agreed to pay a total of $7,665.50 in restitution for damages to the dorm and is not permitted to return to campus or make contact with any school officials.

Sentencing in this case has been scheduled for March 25, 2020.

The State is represented in this case by Assistant Prosecutor Howard Bell of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

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