Baton Rouge restaurant owner accused of torching his business

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Baton Rouge, La. – A months-long investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the St. George Fire Department has resulted in the arrest of a local businessman who stands accused of torching a Baton Rouge-area restaurant and for a string of attempts to burn a restaurant he owned in the Prairieville area.

36 year old Jonathan Paul Marino of Baton Rouge was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail Wednesday on numerous charges for a fire that he intentionally set on March 12, 2017 in a restaurant he owned called ‘The Cast Iron Kitchen,’ on Jones Creek Road.

The fire caused significant damage to the structure and adjacent tenant spaces, authorities said. 

During the course of the investigation, investigators learned of an earlier fire that occurred in 2015 at a restaurant Marino owned in the Prairieville area known as ‘The Italian Bowl.’

A subsequent investigation revealed that Marino had attempted to set fire to the structure on at least three separate occasions in an attempt to collect insurance money.

Authorities say Marino will face arson counts in Ascension Parish related to those crimes.

In the East Baton Rouge Parish fire, surveillance footage obtained by investigators show that within minutes of Marino leaving ‘The Cast Iron Kitchen,’ which was closed at the time, smoke was observed coming from the building.

A short while later, emergency crews could be seen arriving on the scene in response to a 911 call by a passerby.

As St. George fire crews were conducting suppression efforts, a portion of the roof collapsed, injuring a firefighter who was inside the restaurant fighting the blaze.

The firefighter was hospitalized because of the injuries he sustained.

As investigators combed through video footage as part of the investigation of the fire at ‘The Cast Iron Kitchen,’ Marino was observed on camera stealing assorted grocery items from an area Walmart shortly before the fire. Marino has been charged for committing that theft.

In response to Marino’s arrest, State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, Jr. said, “We have and will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to defraud insurance companies for financial gain. Their actions victimize everyperson who lives, visits, works, or does business in this state.”

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