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police cruisersMiddletown, NJ – On November 9, 2017 at approximately 11:32pm, units from the Middletown Twp. Police Department and Middletown Twp. Fire Department responded to a report of a working structure fire at 53 Hamilton Avenue in the Leonardo section of Middletown.  The structure, a house that was still under construction, was completely destroyed by the fire.  Police officers on scene were able to quickly develop information that the fire may have been intentionally set. 

Detectives Albert Scott, Anthony Dellatacoma, and Keith Hirschbein conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of Matthew Franco, 20, of Leonardo.  Franco was arrested on November 11, 2017 and was charged with Aggravated Arson, Criminal Mischief, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Arson, Criminal Trespass, and Employing a Juvenile in the Commission of a Crime.  Franco was processed and lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.  Additionally, on November 13, 2017 two juveniles were also taken into custody and charged.


The investigation is still ongoing and anyone with additional information is asked to call the Middletown Twp. Police Detective Bureau Tip Line at (732) 615-3277.


We treat each of our patients as part of the family at Atlantic Highlands Animal Hospital. We offer top-quality surgical and dental treatments for cats and dogs. For the best pet care in the Atlantic Highlands, NJ, call us at (732) 291-4400. https://www.atlantichighlandsvet.com

Any persons arrested or charged with offenses are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Additionally, except in specific circumstances, arrest and complaint information and names of those charged may be released.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...

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