Bracke sentenced to 39 years in prison
by Tom Chillemi
Convicted child molester and arsonist Arthur R. Bracke was sentenced to 39 years in prison by Middlesex Circuit Court Judge William H. Shaw III on Wednesday, November 5.
Judge Shaw said Bracke’s numerous sentences are to run consecutively, which means his prison term is the sum of all his sentences added together.
Middlesex Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Hurd said inmates in the state system must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
In August 2008, a Middlesex jury found Bracke, 62, guilty of six sex-related crimes including two felonies of aggravated sexual battery involving an 11-year-old boy, which occurred in November 2007. The jury recommended sentences totaling 34 years and a $10,000 fine. Judge Shaw imposed those sentences “without alteration.”
The maximum sentence for one conviction of aggravated sexual battery is 20 years and a $100,000 fine.
In September 2008, Bracke pled guilty to setting fire to the house he was living in on Mill Wharf Road in Wake on November 17, 2007. On the arson conviction, Judge Shaw sentenced Bracke to 30 years in prison with all but 5 years suspended. That sentence is consecutive to the other 34-year sentence, which equals 39 years.
Judge Shaw also ordered Bracke to pay $11,600 in restitution.
Judge Shaw also added six months to each of the sex convictions, but suspended this extra prison time for one year contingent on Bracke’s completion of supervision upon his release.
Bracke also has been indicted for attempted first-degree murder. Allegedly, his adopted son, who was 19 years old at the time, was sleeping inside when fires were set in two different areas of the interior of the house. This charge has not yet been prosecuted.
Arthur Bracke also has been indicted on four other felony sex crimes involving a boy under the age of 13. That case has not been heard.
Bracke was a child abuse investigator for the Middlesex Department of Social Services for 21 years until he retired on July 31, 2007.
During the November 5 sentencing hearing, prosecutor Mike Hurd said Bracke used his training as a child abuse investigator to satisfy his own sexual desires.
Hurd said the 11-year-old boy “wakes up saying that a man is trying to get him.” Hurd said the victim impact statement indicates the victim “thinks he will one day die from Mr. Bracke’s hands if Mr. Bracke gets out.
“It’s obvious that this victim and our community must be protected from Mr. Bracke,” said Hurd.
Hurd noted that after these sex crimes were committed by Bracke, he was convicted of a handgun charge and setting fire to his home using an accelerant. Hurd said Bracke set fires in two places in the home. “And between those two places was his (adopted) son.”
Hurd said Bracke committed these “cold calculated evil acts” and has a “dangerous and depraved mind.”
Bracke’s court-appointed defense attorney, Joey Caprio of West Point, told Judge Shaw, “What we have in front of you is the tragedy of a man’s life.”
As a social worker for 21-plus years Bracke “helped a lot of people,” Caprio said.
Caprio said Bracke’s actions “come from his lack of medication.
“He is not the evil person that needs to be sentenced to life in prison because of one or two bad acts . . . 95 percent of his life has been exemplary,” said Caprio.
“Consider this man’s whole life,” said Caprio. “He had done well, up until this time when he got out of control because of his [lack of] medication and [consumption of] alcohol. That’s self imposed. He did have a problem with substance abuse.”
On medication, Bracke is stable, said Caprio.
Caprio said Bracke was stressed and felt retirement would lessen that stress, but his drinking increased.
Before sentencing, Bracke addressed Judge Shaw and explained the arson. Bracke said he had retired in July 2007, but benefits had not been granted immediately and he had been without income for three months. The house was foreclosed after the mortgage company refused his request for deferral of payments, and the new owners wanted $900 for a month of rental extension.
Bracke had lined up an apartment at a Deltaville marina, but construction delayed his moving in.
“The morning of the fire, I got up about 10 a.m.,” he said. “I started drinking, which had been my habit. I was debating whether I was gong to commit suicide that morning, whether I was going to commit suicide and burn the house up with me in it, or was I just going to burn the house and leave. Well, I chickened out on the suicide and I decided to go ahead and burn the house and leave. The reason I didn’t know my son was in the house is because he had been kicked out of the house.”
When Josh Bracke turned 18 years old, he agreed he would pay rent, but did not pay for 14 months, Arthur Bracke told the judge. “I told him, now that the house is no longer mine you’re going to have to go somewhere else. I did kick him out of the house. In fact, I was unaware he was there that morning.”