SCHENECTADY — A local woman has been arrested in connection with an arson at The Daily Gazette three years ago.
Ebony Polite, 29, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree arson, third-degree burglary and criminal mischief in connection with the May 8, 2016, fire.
Polite worked in The Gazette mail room from Oct. 10, 2014, to April 11, 2016 — leaving just three weeks before she allegedly set the fire.
Officials termed the early-morning blaze, which originated in the ground floor mail room and press room, as suspicious.
PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Ebony Polite, 29, of Schenectady covers her face as she leaves Schenectady City Court on her way to the County Jail after her arraignment Friday, May 10, 2019.
Authorities said it was deliberately set in three locations: Uniforms hanging on a wall, a towel- and mop-filled bin and a stack of newspapers.
Polite was arraigned on Friday in Schenectady City Court. Judge Mark J. Caruso set bail at $40,000 cash, $80,000 bond.
Polite was then sent to the Schenectady County Jail. A preliminary hearing has been set for Wednesday.
The fire caused $1,137,000 in damage, including electrical damage to the press room.
John DeAugustine, president and publisher of The Daily Gazette, hailed the police work that led to the arrest.
“It was great to see the Schenectady Police Department made an arrest in our 2016 arson fire," DeAugustine said. "I’m glad that they never gave up on the case and were able to finally bring somebody in.”
Polite was represented at the arraignment on Friday by defense attorney Megan Crandall.
Crandall acknowledged Polite has a misdemeanor criminal history. But Polite has two jobs, working at CrestHill Suites in Albany and as a home health aide, and had been working to rehabilitate herself in recent years, said Crandall, citing volunteer work with SEAT in Schenectady.
Polite, in fact, appeared at a ribbon-cutting event earlier this month to tout the completion of a new home on Prospect Street in Schenectady.
She said YouthBuild helped her find a path when she was a troubled teen with a child.
“I had a lot of insecurities that would make it hard to step forward,” she said at the ribbon-cutting. “When I stepped in I had, like, a family. Nobody looked down on me. … That ultimately helped me become a greater mom to my son, it helped me build better skills.”