Top restaurant sommelier arrested over series of arson attacks across New York

·2 min read
Video released by the department shows a man with long hair wearing shorts, a jacket and a backpack casually walk up to an outdoor structure before lighting a fire (FDNY)
Video released by the department shows a man with long hair wearing shorts, a jacket and a backpack casually walk up to an outdoor structure before lighting a fire (FDNY)

A famous New York sommelier has been arrested and charged with arson after allegedly setting a spate of fires throughout the city.

New York City Fire Department said in a statement on Wednesday that Caleb Ganzer, 35, has been arrested and charged in connection to three incidents across 2020.

The wine expert is facing two counts of arson in the third degree; two counts of Criminal Mischief in the third degree; and three counts of Reckless Endangerment in the second degree.

The FDNY said that Mr Ganzer was arrested after allegedly setting fire to an outdoor dining structure owned by a local pizza restaurant, Prince Street Pizza, on 13 July.

Investigators claim they then connected the sommelier to two other fires in the area, one on 26 June and one on 8 January.

Authorities say that in June a pile of rubbish was set on fire at the corner of Broome St and Centre St while in January another local restaurant’s outdoor dining structure was set alight.

Video released by the department shows a man with long hair wearing shorts, a jacket and a backpack casually walk up to an outdoor structure before lighting a fire in multiple places.

FDNY officials said that no injuries were caused by the fires, but noted the alleged offences had the potential to be dangerous.

“Every act of arson has the potential to spread rapidly, endangering the lives of New Yorkers and FDNY members,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel A Nigro.

He added: “Thankfully in these incidents, there were no injuries and the suspect has been apprehended before another fire could be set.”

Mr Ganzer is currently listed as a managing partner at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and was listed as one of Wine & Spirits Best New Sommeliers 2016.

A biography for Mr Ganzer on GreatSommelier said the 35-year-old had worked at a number of “acclaimed restaurants” throughout his career.

“We as the company are aware of the incident, and Mr Ganzer is on a leave of absence,” Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels told media outlets in a statement.

The Independent has reached out to the restaurant for further comment.

Mr Ganzer’s social media accounts are not active following the news of his arrest. It is not clear if he has legal representation available to comment on his behalf.

FDNY said the case will be prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

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