Ocean County Arsonist Sentenced To Seven Years

Jamal Preston (Photo courtesy Ocean County Jail)

  OCEAN COUNTY – A convicted arsonist was sentenced to prison for trying to burn down a house with three people inside.

  Jamal Preston, 27, of Egg Harbor Township, had pled guilty to setting fire to a home in Lakewood on August 22, 2020 while three people were inside. He fled the scene and was arrested at a motel in Absecon by the United States Marshals Service on August 31, 2020.

  Preston also got in a fight with someone in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley on August 20, two days earlier. Berkeley Police arrested him, and found him to be in possession of a knife.

  For the arson, putting people’s lives in danger, he was sentenced to seven years in New Jersey State Prison. Subject to the No Early Release Act, he must serve at least 85% of this before being eligible for parole. There was another charge for arson from the same incident, in this case for damaging property. This also carried a seven year sentence.

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  For the fight, he received 18 months in prison for Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. These sentences will all run at the same time.

  Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer  commended the efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s K-9 Unit, United States Marshals Service, Egg Harbor Township Detective Bureau, Berkeley Township Police and Detective Bureau, and South Toms River Police Department, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Preston’s apprehension, guilty pleas, and now his state prison sentence.