Bracke pleads guilty to arson
by Tom Chillemi
Arthur R. Bracke pled guilty on Wednesday, September 3, in Middlesex Circuit Court to arson of an occupied dwelling. Bracke admitted he set fire to the house he was living in on Mill Wharf Road in Wake on November 17, 2007.
Judge William H. Shaw III will sentence Bracke, 62, on November 5 at 9:30 a.m. on the arson conviction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Bracke also is scheduled to be sentenced November 5 on six sexual molestation convictions from a trial in August.
Bracke also was scheduled to be tried on September 3 for the attempted first-degree murder of his adopted son, Josh Bracke, who allegedly was sleeping inside the house when Arthur Bracke set the fire. Josh Bracke, who was 19 at the time, escaped unharmed.
Josh Bracke, now 20, did not appear for his adoptive father’s trial last week and Judge William H. Shaw III issued a warrant for the missing witness who had been subpoenaed. Josh Bracke also was interviewed by an investigator after being served the subpoena.
At Arthur Bracke’s preliminary hearing in March 2008, Josh Bracke gave damaging testimony against his adoptive father. Josh testified he had fallen asleep on his bed around noon and awoke after about 35 minutes, smelled burning fabric, and saw two rooms on fire.
Soon after the fire Josh Bracke filed the original criminal complaint, which contains language similar to his testimony at the preliminary hearing. Josh Bracke told the investigator he had been sleeping in his bed, woke up and found his father’s bedroom on fire. He went outside and saw his father leaving in a Land Rover SUV and “made eye contact with him,” according to the criminal complaint.
The attempted first-degree murder charge against Arthur Bracke has been continued to January 21, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.
While answering questions from Judge Shaw, Arthur Bracke said a plea agreement had been offered by Middlesex Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Hurd. Bracke said he and his court appointed attorney, Joey Caprio of West Point, rejected the offer.
During closing statements, Hurd told Judge Shaw that Arthur Bracke’s house had been foreclosed on and he was being forced to leave by November 17, 2007. It was owned by MNM, an LLC, according to the charges.
Hurd said Josh Bracke was sleeping inside the house at the time of the fire, but there was some disagreement between Hurd and the defense whether Arthur Bracke knew Josh was inside the house.
Caprio objected to further statements by Hurd and the closing statements were stopped.
There will be a pre-sentencing report.
Also on November 5 at 9:30 a.m., Bracke will be sentenced for six sexual felony convictions related to molesting a child under the age of 13. On August 6, 2008 a Middlesex jury recommended a sentence of 34 years and a $10,000 fine.
Bracke is also facing four felony sex charges involving another child who also is under the age of 13. A hearing on those charges is set for September 22.
Bracke was a child abuse investigator with the Middlesex Department of Social Services for 21 years before he retired in July 2007.