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Former Compton fire department deputy chief arrested for arson

City News Service | 5/17/2013, 7:48 a.m.

COMPTON, Calif. -- Former Compton Fire Department Deputy Chief Marcel Melanson is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on grand theft and arson charges related to a fire at the department's headquarters.

Melanson is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of Motorola radios, selling them online and intentionally setting the Dec. 11, 2011 fire to destroy evidence of the thefts, Steve Whitmore of the sheriff's department said.

On Jan. 4, 2012, the Compton Fire Department chief requested the sheriff's department's Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau assist its investigation into the fire, Whitmore said.

The 37-year-old Melanson was arrested Wednesday morning at his Torrance home and was "very cooperative," Whitmore said. Bail was set at $250,000.

Melanson was among the featured participants in a 2009 BET documentary series on Compton firefighters and paramedics, "First In."

The radios were purchased by Compton's city government in connection with the planned re-establishment of the Compton Police Department, Whitmore said.

The Compton City Council dropped the plan to re-establish its own police department because of the city's financial difficulties. The sheriff's department continues to provide police services for the city.