Prominent N.Y.C. Sommelier Accused of Starting Fires at Restaurants Near His Wine Bar
Caleb Ganzer, 35, is allegedly seen on surveillance camera lighting the fires
A well-known sommelier is facing criminal charges in New York City for allegedly setting three fires, including two that damaged the outdoor dining structures of restaurants in Lower Manhattan.
Authorities released surveillance footage they allege shows Caleb Ganzer, 35, using a lighter to set fire to the outdoor dining area of Prince Street Pizza.
The July 13 arson allegedly started when Ganzer lit a napkin holder attached to the wooden structure ablaze.
Fire officials also say Ganzer, who is a partner at a Manhattan wine bar, set a pile of rubbish on fire June 26, and torched an outdoor dining structure at an Italian restaurant, Forsythia, back in January.
The January fire resulted in $3,500 in damage.
Ganzer, named a Food & Wine sommelier of the year in 2017, is charged with two counts of third-degree arson, two counts of third-degree criminal mischief, and three counts of second-degree reckless endangerment.
"Every act of arson has the potential to spread rapidly, endangering the lives of New Yorkers and FDNY members," said Daniel A. Nigro, commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, in a statement. "Thankfully, in these incidents, there were no injuries and the suspect has been apprehended before another fire could be set."
A motive is unclear.
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PEOPLE was unable to determine if Ganzer had entered pleas to the charges, or had a lawyer who might comment on his behalf.
Calls to numbers listed for him were unanswered.
Ganzer has an ownership stake in La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels on Centre Street.
In a statement to The New York Times, the wine bar's management said, "We as the company are aware of the incident, and Mr. Ganzer is on a leave of absence."