A Collin County jury returned a guilty verdict against former Melissa Fire Department investigator Brad Wells on Oct. 8, closing a bizarre chapter in the department’s history.
Wells was found guilty of arson and sentenced on Oct. 9. Wells, who had pled not guilty, was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. He was further ordered to complete a psychological evaluation, complete substance abuse evaluation, to have no contact with Melissa Fire Department employees and to not enter any MFD buildings. He was also given 200 hours of community service by Judge Benjamin Smith.
Wells, 40, was arrested on Sept. 7, 2011 by Melissa police officers as he was seen running away from the scene of one of two fires he was charged with setting. The fires, which were found to be Wells’ handiwork, were set in the Northcreek neighborhood of Melissa in the early morning hours. The first fire was reported at about 2:52 a.m. and involved an older barn surrounded by a stand of trees. The second fire, this one another structure fire, was discovered by Collin County Sheriff deputies at approximately 3:56 a.m. nearly a quarter of a mile from the scene of the first fire.
While leaving the initial fire scene, one of the Sheriff’s deputies observed a person walking away from the fire. When confronted, the suspect ran into the hedgerow nearby. The suspect was Wells, who was arrested on suspicion of second degree felony arson and taken to the sheriff’s office and booked.
The arson charge carried a possible prison sentence of 2 to 20 years and up to $10,000 fine.
Wells’ legal woes are not over yet, however.
A surprise injury suit was filed against Wells by the Texas Municipal League (TML) on behalf of the City of Melissa. TML, the City of Melissa’s health insurance provider, is seeking to recover some of the medical costs of treating two volunteer firefighters who were injured as a result of the fires having been intentionally set by Wells, according to Melissa City Manager Jason Little.
The suit was initiated by TML with no input from the city or its legal department.