FREEHOLDA Toms River man admitted to setting ablaze a group of commercial vehicles belonging to a local business in Wall Township, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago and Wall Township Police Chief Sean O’Halloran announced on Friday.

On Tuesday, January 2, 2024, Harcourt “Paul” S. Ward, 70, pleaded guilty to third-degree Arson before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Henry P. Butehorn. As a result of his plea, the State has recommended that Ward face 3 years in a New Jersey State Prison when he is sentenced, tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 22, 2024.

The guilty plea stems from an investigation that began on Monday evening, September 26, 2022, at approximately 10:11 p.m., when the Wall Township Police Department responded to a fire at the 1900 block of Atlantic Avenue. Upon arrival, members of the Wall Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office found six vehicles on fire.

An investigation revealed that Ward, of Ward Realty and Insurance in Point Pleasant, was the person responsible for purposely setting the vehicles ablaze. The estimated cost of the damage caused by the fire was over $1 million.

The case is being handled by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Trial Division. Ward is represented by William E. Wackowski, Esq., of Point Pleasant.