Benjamin Gilmore: Our Interview With the Man Convicted of Starting the Penny Flats Fire [VIDEO]
Benjamin David Gilmore made the news again recently, as he and prosecutors reached an agreement where he will pay $7.5M in restitution due to his conviction in starting the Penny Flats Fire in Old Town Fort Collins.
In a bit of a flashback- we take a look at our interview with Benjamin- prior to the fire.
This is kind of an intriguing story: A local businessman (beekeeping) turned protester, gets convicted of starting a fire that causes $10M in damages- and threatened 21 people's lives.
Benjamin Gilmore was convicted for his involvement in the Penny Flats Fire of late 2011 and sentenced to serve eight years in prison, as well as ordered to pay $7.5M in restitution. Gilmore started the fire in the Mason Flats building that was under construction at the time- that fire then spread across the street to the occupied Penny Flats apartment building.
The evidence in the trial included pieces of his watch found in the burned Mason Flats building, and fire-burn marks on his hands. Part of the peculiarity of the case, is that Gilmore only has one hand. Gilmore’s lawyers used that fact as much of his defense: How could a man with only one hand climb up two stories of scaffolding WITH the fuel to start the fire? It must have been an issue to jurors as well, as the first trial ended in a mistrial with no verdict.
Glimore was an Occupy Fort Collins protester in October of 2011. The ‘Occupy’ movement was in full-swing across the nation, and Fort Collins was no exception.
It was a weird coincidence, that we interviewed Gilmore as he protested. As you watch, one wonders what’s going on inside his mind. How does a ‘frustrated with the government’ person begin thinking of starting a fire? A fire in a building that was just a few yards from where this video was taken.