PSP: Fawn Twp. fire investigation leads to drug, weapon charges

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

State police investigating the cause of a Fawn Township fire stumbled onto a second investigation at the burned-out apartment house.

Now two first-floor residents are charged with dealing drugs and possessing brass knuckles, which in Pennsylvania are considered a prohibited offensive weapon.

This three-unit apartment house was destroyed by fire on Thursday, May 11, 2017, a fire official said.
(Photo courtesy of Southern PA Incident Network)

Jefferson Lee Bracey Jr., 21, now of Cedar Valley Road in Fawn Township, and Colton Lee Arney, 19, now of Barrens Road North in Hopewell Township, remain free on $30,000 bail each.

They were arraigned Monday and were charged with cocaine possession with intent to deliver, illegal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a prohibited offensive weapon.

According to charging documents, Trooper Brad Dunham, a state police fire marshal, and Trooper Matthew Eicher, alternate state police fire marshal, were called to an apartment house in the 600 block of Graceton Road on May 11 to investigate the cause of a blaze that destroyed the building.

The fire investigation is still ongoing, police said Tuesday.

The allegations: The blaze started in Bracey's and Arney's first-floor apartment, police said, and both men were home at the time.

Arney was transported to York Hospital for injuries he suffered in the fire, according to police.

Assistant Fire Chief Jimmy Williams of Fawn Grove's Citizens Volunteer Fire Co. previously said two residents of the apartment house were injured that day — a man who lived on the first floor suffered burns and a boy who inhaled smoke and lived on the third floor was taken to a Maryland hospital for treatment.

Two people hurt in Fawn Twp. house fire

Charging documents filed by Eicher state that Bracey was asked to accompany the troopers through a walk-through of his apartment, where he unlocked and opened a safe in his bedroom to retrieve insurance documents.

'Excited utterance': But when he opened the safe, Eicher noticed suspected synthetic marijuana, a digital scale and a shotgun, documents allege.

"Bracey made the following excited utterance," according to charging documents: "I used to sell weed years ago but Colton (Arney) has been talking about starting to sell drugs to supplement his income and help with rent."

In addition to the shotgun, Bracey had two handguns in the apartment, and all three weapons were loaded. Neither man was charged with having an illegal firearm.

Items seized: Troopers obtained a search warrant from the apartment and seized items including the digital scale, cocaine, packages of small glassine bags, $700 cash, the firearms and metal knuckles, according to documents.

But attorney Doug Bare, who represents Arney, reacted with skepticism to police allegations. 

"Reading the charging documents, the state police ... jumped to conclusions with no basis," he said Tuesday.

Bracey declined immediate comment.

Fire destroyed a three-unit apartment house at 683-687 Graceton Road in Fawn Township on Thursday, May 11, 2017.
(Photo courtesy of Southern PA Incident Network)

The blaze: Williams said fire crews had the blaze under control in about a half hour.

Seven residents from the three apartments were displaced, he said — four adults and three juveniles.

The apartment house is a total loss, according to Williams.

There were initial reports of people trapped inside, but that wasn't the case, he said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.