Clay man indicted on arson charges for setting fire to garage

A Clay man was indicted by a grand jury for his alleged role in an arson over the summer.

40-year-old Christopher Deverso, of Bear Road, is charged with intentionally setting flames at a garage at the Norstar Apartment Complex in Clay in July. He was also charged with conspiracy and insurance fraud.

Onondaga County Sheriff's deputies say Deverso started the fire to collect insurance money. It destroyed the garage.

Another man, 40-year-old Robert Swartz, of Denver, is also charged with arson in the case.

Deverso was first in the public eye in 2009 when the State DEC tried to remove "Rocky" the snakehead fish from his home for being an illegal species.

Then, in 2010, his daughter, 17-year-old Victoria Deverso was killed in a drunk driving crash in Bridgeport.

According to court documents in the arson case, Swartz says he started the fire, but only after Deverso "said he would give me $10,000 for doing it so I agreed to do it for him. He gave me the key code to his garage and told me where the gas was."

Deverso had two classic cars he stored there that were worth about $80,000. Swartz, who is visiting from Denver, said in the affidavit that he drove Deverso's Cadillac Escalade to and from the scene. He says the payment Deverso promised him would come from the insurance money.

The fire caused almost half a million dollars in total damages.