MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida man accused of burning two American flags at a Marion County church now faces arson charges. Police arrested
Joseph Michael Allegretto earlier this month on charges of criminal mischief after he allegedly set fire to two American flags at the Congregational Church at 15421 S. Highway 301 in Summerfield.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office said Thursday Allegretto also attempted to set fire to the church's exterior breaker box.
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations conducted its own investigation and charged Allegretto with second-degree arson. He remains in the Marion County Jail.
After the investigation by the fire and arson bureau, Allegretto now faces arson charges in addition to the criminal mischief charges.
The church's pastor contacted authorities about the flag-burning incident.
"All that was left was the flag stick with char on it," the pastor, Dr. Jim Keough, told authorities after the flag incident. "It was very upsetting. You do think about 'what if?' We're just grateful and thankful. It's Thanksgiving. We're very thankful that we didn't have damage to our beautiful building."