The owner of the G.I. Joe store on E. Washington Street, who was charged with setting fire to the building, has been sentenced to a one-year probation by an Attleboro District Court judge.
According to court documents, Judge Michele Armour announced on Jan. 19 that the case would continue for one year without a finding after the suspect, Vicki M. Bertelsen, 46, of 117 Farrington Ave., Norfolk, admitted in court there was sufficient evidence that connected her to the burning of the store last August.
In response to Bertelsen’s admission, Armour granted her a one-year probation on the condition that she receive mental health treatment and a substance abuse evaluation. Prosecutors also reduced Bertlesen’s initial charge of burning a building—which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison—in response to her admission.
According to the North Attleborough Fire Department, a fire alarm alerted dispatchers at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 1 of a fire at the store. Firefighters who arrived at the scene found smoke emanating from the building and were able to extinguish the fire in 10 minutes.
An investigation by the NAFD and the NAPD found footage of Bertelsen lighting a display case in the store on fire.
According to Assistant District Attorney Eric DeMoura, the police reported that Bertelsen left the store in an Uber and went to a restaurant in Wrentham, where a witness allegedly heard her say she was “going to jail for arson.”
According to court documents, a not guilty plea was entered on behalf of Bertelsen on Aug. 25 and she was released on a $5,000 cash bail on the conditions that she stay away from the business, have no possession of dangerous weapons, undergo a mental health evaluation and abide by any treatment plans.
Bertelson’s lawyer, Amit Singh of Attleboro, said his client had no criminal record prior to the fire. Singh also said that Bertelson was going through emotional distress at the time as she was mourning the death of her father, the store’s previous owner, per court documents. Amour told Bertelsen the case against her would be dismissed if she completes said probation sentence and does not violate any laws for one year.