The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 9, 2013

Powellton man arrested on charges of arson and making false 911 calls

By Cody Neff
The Register-Herald

— A Fayette County man is in jail after being arrested for arson and making false 911 calls.

James Earl Hudnall, 19, of Powellton, is charged with four counts of falsely reporting an emergency incident and one count of first degree arson.

Hudnall was arrested after police looked into a series of fake calls to the Fayette County 911 Center. The caller reported various types of emergencies including structure fires, car wrecks and a mining accident.

While emergency crews responded to the fake calls, the Armstrong Creek and Montgomery fire departments were sent to two fires that involved vacant homes in the Powellton area of Fayette County. Investigators ruled that those fires were intentionally started.

After an investigation by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau led police to Hudnall, he was arrested without incident.

A criminal complaint was filed in Magistrate Court last Wednesday charging Hudnall with the crimes. He was arraigned in Fayette County Magistrate Court and was remanded to Southern Regional Jail on $25,000 bond.

Each of the four misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an emergency incident carries a potential sentence of up to six months in jail. Hudnall could also face a prison sentence of two to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of first degree arson.

“Making a false call to 911 is not a joke,” Sheriff Steve Kessler said.” Each time that this individual made one of these prank calls he was endangering the public and wasting valuable public resources. What if there had been a real emergency while the firefighters were tied up responding to these fake calls? What if a firefighter had been injured responding to or fighting the fire that this individual intentionally started?”

The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau. Anyone with information related to the series of incidents can contact the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 304-574-4216 or Crime Stoppers at 304-255-7867.

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