Jan 22, 2010, 2:00 PM EST
Following is a story of intrigue, family jealousy and bowling. It’s the story arc that could have played out on The Sopranos had that series lasted an additional season, but since it didn’t, it had to happen in real life. Police investigating a fire that destroyed Loyle Lanes bowling alley in Vineland, New Jersey last week found clues that indicated arson, and eventually led to the alleged arsonist; who happened to be the owner of a competing bowling alley in a neighboring community. Steven Henry Smink, 47, of Philadelphia, the owner of Pike Lanes in Deerfield Township, was charged Tuesday with aggravated arson, aggravated arson for hire and conspiracy to commit aggravated arson. Smink’s bowling alley was in financial trouble, it seems, so he allegedly did the only sensible thing. He burned down the nearest competition.
In addition, Felix Antonio Manzano, 21, and a 17-year-old male teen, both Philadelphia residents, also face charges of aggravated arson, aggravated arson for hire and conspiracy to commit aggravated arson.
According to Loyle, Pike Lanes had recently lost two leagues to Loyle Lanes due to broken machinery. That, coupled with a liquor license that had been revoked in late June 2009 and a business plan that only charged approximately $2 for a game made for tough financial waters, said Loyle.
“Pike wasn’t making money,” he said.
According to officials in Deerfield Township, Pike Lanes has not paid any of its 2009 municipal taxes. As of Wednesday, the business owed the township $28,199.50, including interest and penalties.
In an interview with The News in April 2009, Smink stated a scuttled attempt by the state to collect $3,000 in fines, for holding unauthorized 50/50 raffles, would have been “crippling” to his business.
It is unclear at this point if any of the suspects are Nihilists.
Vineland police offer details in arrests of three Philadelphia residents in Loyle Lanes arson [Cumberland County News]
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