Stepney firefighter charged in vehicle arson, accused of insurance fraud

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Police arrested Stepney volunteer firefighter Matthew Bittner, 38, and his friend, Joseph Bogdanyi, 32, of Seymour today for allegedly taking part in an insurance scheme culminating in the burning of a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe owned by Bittner’s girlfriend on Oct. 23.

Police issued a news release on the arrests Monday and an Internet search later found that Bittner is a Stepney firefighter.

Bittner, of 11 Pilgrim Lane in Monroe, was charged with first degree arson, conspiracy to commit first degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, making a false statement and insurance fraud.

Bogdanyi, of 115 Squantuck Road in Seymour, was charged with first degree conspiracy to commit arson and making a false statement.

Both men were released on $100,000 bond each for a Jan. 2 court date.

On Oct. 23, police received a report of a vehicle fire in the driveway of 35 Corporate Drive in Monroe at approximately 12:42 a.m. Police said the Tahoe was engulfed in flames when they arrived on the scene.

The registration showed it belonged to a Pilgrim Lane resident and had been reported stolen on Oct. 21. It was later recovered by Bridgeport police officers on Oct. 22 and released to the owner’s boyfriend, Bittner, police said.

Upon learning of the fire on Oct. 23, police said Bittner told officers the Tahoe was stored at his place of business in Newtown and must have been stolen a second time.

Bittner later reported the Tahoe stolen at the Newtown Police Department.

Through an extensive police investigation, Monroe police detectives found probable cause to believe that Bittner and his friend, Bogdanyi, drove the vehicle to Corporate Drive, where it was set on fire, according to police.

Arrest warrants were granted by Superior Court for Bittner and Bogdanyi.

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