LINDEN, NJ - A Southampton man has been arrested and charged with second-degree aggravated arson and second-degree making terroristic threats, according to a statement by acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Linden Police Chief David Hart.

According to officials, Desmond E. Hodge, 47, threatened the occupants of a Linden home and later set a can of gasoline on fire in their driveway, shortly after 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13.

Members of the Linden Police Department and Linden Fire Department were dispatched to the home located on the 1300 block of Essex Avenue on a report of a fire, according to the preliminary investigation.

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Upon arrival, first responders found a gasoline can on fire in the home’s driveway, which had, at that point, partially destroyed a nearby bush. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames without further damage.

On scene, investigators learned that Hodge had allegedly threatened the home’s five occupants earlier in the day, claiming that a shared relative owed him money, and promising to return after “going to get gasoline.” Then, approximately 40 minutes after the initial call for service, police located Hodge slowly driving down the victims’ street in a silver BMW. Officers were able to pull Hodge over and arrest him at that time.

Hodge has since been lodged in the Union County Jail pending a first appearance and detention hearing scheduled to take place in Superior Court.

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison. 

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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