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Local businessman charged with arson, theft

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BATON ROUGE- A local businessman is accused of torching a Baton Rouge restaurant, as well as a string of attempts to burn down a restaurant he owned in Prairieville.

36-year-old Jonathan Paul Marino of Baton Rouge was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on numerous charges for a fire that he intentionally started on Mar. 12, 2017 at The Cast Iron Kitchen, located on Jones Creek Road.

Surveillance footage obtained by investigators show that within minutes of Marino leaving The Cast Iron Kitchen, smoke was observed coming from the building. 

When St. George fire crews arrived on the scene, the roof collapsed and injured a firefighter that was inside battling the blaze. The firefighter, Stephen Mitchell, sustained second-degree burns to ten percent of his body.

The fire caused significant damage to the structure of the building, and also to adjacent tenant spaces.

According to the arrest warrant, St. George Fire Department determined that the origin of the fire was in the office area of the restaurant. The cause of the fire was the result of human intervention and incendiary in nature. State Police say the fire was set with the intent to defraud Scottsdale Insurance Company of $135,000.

In an interview with St. George Fire Dept., Marino advised that as he was leaving the restaurant that day, he smelled smoke, but did not return to check on his business.

Authorities say video footage also caught Marino stealing assorted grocery items from an area Walmart shortly before the fire. Marino has been charged for theft.

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Marino was also responsible for a fire that occurred in 2015 at a Prairieville restaurant that Marino himself owned: The Italian Bowl.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Marino had attempted to set fire to the structure on at least three separate occasions in an attempt to collect insurance money. 

Marino will face arson charges in Ascension Parish in relation to those crimes.

State Fire Marshal "Butch" Browning says, "We have and will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to defraud insurance companies for financial gain. Their actions victimize every person who lives, works, or does business in this state."

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