A Hudson Valley man set his local business on fire and nearly killing one person.

On Friday in Orange County court, a jury found 44-year-old Jesus Cruz of Peekskill guilty of arson and reckless endangerment for intentionally setting fire to a bodega he owned in the City of Newburgh.

The jury found that on Sept. 22, 2017, Cruz intentionally damaged the building at 435 Broadway by starting the fire when he knew that another person was in the building, or that there was a reasonable possibility that someone was in the building.

The jury also found that Cruz showed a corrupt disregard for human life and his conduct created a grave risk of death to the tenant who Cruz knew lived above the bodega.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Cruz got mad when fire inspectors ordered the electricity be cut off to the building due to unsafe conditions. Prosecutors also said Cruz was experiencing severe financial difficulties and recently received a new fire insurance policy.

A witness testified that she saw Cruz exit his store at about 10:50 p.m. and then saw an explosion and flames coming from the building. Cruz started the fire by spilling gasoline in the building and setting it ablaze, officials say.

“Arson, particularly when it occurs in a densely populated urban area, and when the arsonist knows that the building is occupied, is an incredibly dangerous crime,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said. “I am thankful that neither the tenant of the building, nor the brave firefighters who responded to the fire, nor others in the vicinity, were injured by this defendant’s actions."

Cruz faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced in December.

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