Shakespeare Theatre

Has There Been Accountability?

By Barbara Heimlich

Editor Stratford Crier

Despite being bolstered by millions in state funding a year ago to redevelop the property, the town has not yet settled on a plan for what will someday replace the historic venue.

The State Bond Commission voted last spring to award the town $3 million to help redevelop the property. Hoydick has previously said the funding could be enough to build a small theater, but that more money would likely be needed for a larger project. Town officials are still considering what to do with the 14-acre town-owned property.

Part of the almost $1.7 million the town received in an insurance payout was spent to clean up the after the fire. The remaining money is in the town’s general fund, though the mayor and town council have yet to decide how it will be used.

But according to Mayor Laura Hoydick, a proposal is in the works.

The 1,500 seat theater, which was modeled after the famed Globe Theatre in London, was destroyed in early 2019 when three teenagers intentionally lit the structure on fire. Police have said the arson was the first in a series of blazes targeting several buildings across town that were set by the trio.

One of the participants, 23-year-old Vincent Keller, in December 2022 pleaded guilty.  Keller, who prosecutors described as the “wing man” in the string of arsons, was sentenced in May to five months in prison for his role in the crimes.   Keller, who had been facing first-degree arson charges, pleaded guilty before Russo to three counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree arson, conspiracy to commit third-degree arson and conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal mischief.

Logan Caraballo, 20, who was a juvenile when police said he helped set the fires, pleaded not guilty to arson, burglary and reckless endangerment charges in the 2019 fires. His case is still pending and is sealed.

The ringleader, Christopher Sakowicz, was handed a 10-year sentence in 2021 as part of a plea deal.

Webster’s Dictionary says the definition of accountability is: “the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions or to account for one’s actions.”

Consequences don’t need to be dire, like losing your job, but there must be consequences, otherwise, there is no accountability.

Under Connecticut law, Penalties for Arson in CT are:

First Degree Arson – Class A Felony. Prison sentence between 10 and 25 years. A fine of up to $20,000.

Second Degree Arson – Class B Felony. Prison sentence between one and 20 years. A fine of up to $15,000.

Third Degree Arson – Class C Felony. Prison sentence between one and 10 years.

What Do You Think?

  • Have these 3 young men been held accountable?
  • Is serving 5 months or 10 years in prison just for what they did?
  • Have they been fined? If so, does the Town of Stratford get reimbursed for their damage?

According to police reports they were charged with setting six fires in Stratford, Southbury, West Haven and Milford between January and March of last year, beginning with the theater fire on January 13th.

Police said the teens admitted on SnapChat that they set that fire and posted an incriminating video that was circulated around Bunnell High School where both Sakowicz and Keller were seniors at the time.

What is your opinion?

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1 reply
  1. David Chess
    David Chess says:

    What was the responsibility of the town. Where was the fire prevention system. Why was it so easy to break in.

    It is easy to beat up on these teenagers but we as a town bear responsibility as well.


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