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Man arrested after Fox News Christmas tree set on fire, later released without bail

A man known to cops for his lengthy criminal record, was arrested after allegedly setting fire to the Fox News Christmas tree, housed in Fox Square outside the Sixth Avenue and West 48th Street Building. The man was later arraigned and placed on supervised release, according to the NYPD.

The display was set on fire shortly after midnight on Wednesday, and the flames spread rapidly up the tree. The suspect is 49-year-old Craig Tamanaha, who now faces multiple charges including arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal trespass.

He apparently slipped into the fake tree, and using its metal frame to climb up the structure, lit a piece of cardboard to start the fire. He was tackled to the ground by a FOX security officer before police, firefighters, and arson investigators made it to the scene.

Police added that Tamanaha allegedly used a lighter and maybe even accelerants to cause roughly $500,000 in property damage. His father, Richard Tamanaha, of Hawaii, spoke to the New York Post after the incident.

“I think he wanted to get onto the news,” he said. “He wants attention.” He even added that his son has caused destruction before, is homeless, and also has a drug problem. “Oh, he’s a nut. I can’t control him,” he continued. “Mentally, he’s not all there.” 

Police said Tamanaha was caught in March for criminal possession of a controlled substance, and he was arrested another time in June for assaulting a police officer. New York City law only considers arson a felony if the suspect harms or attempts to harm a person, or if the act is a hate crime.

Tamanaha would have to be charged with third-degree arson at least, a felony that qualifies as a hate crime, for a judge to set bail. “There’s no question that the legislature has got to reevaluate the nooks and crannies of the bail statute because it’s leading to absurd outcomes,” said Mark Bederow, a Manhattan prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: FOX5 NY

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