An employee of a Palm Beach RV company being sought for a fire that destroyed multiple RVs at a competitor was arrested in South Carolina, a U.S. Marshals spokesman said. Benjamin Harris, 54, is facing 10 counts of second-degree arson, as well as a federal charge for violating his probation on a previous conviction.
U.S. Marshals arrested Harris on Tuesday and was booked into the Colleton County Jail in Walterboro, SC, where he is awaiting extradition to Florida, reported myPalmBeachPost. Harris allegedly set the fire Aug. 5 that destroyed nearly $350,000 worth of RVs at Waits RV Center.
Before he fled to South Carolina, Harris was employed at Palm Beach RV, a business in suburban West Palm Beach owned by Larry Waits, whose brother, Bill, is the owner of Waits RV Center.
Harris was seen on surveillance-camera video wearing a Palm Beach RV T-shirt on the night of the alleged arson. Harris is captured getting out of his parked vehicle with something in his hand, walking into the Waits RV Center lot, then later driving away as several vehicles catch fire.
Harris disappeared after a detective with the Florida Department of Financial Services attempted to interview him Aug. 7. It is unknown why Harris targeted the Waits RV Center.
In 2005, Harris was convicted of setting a chain of fires in northern St. Lucie County — and one in West Palm Beach that destroyed a nightclub — and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
Investigators said they believed Harris was responsible for at least 24 fires in St. Lucie County, although he was charged in fewer than half of those.
In 2007, Harris was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for setting 26 fires in New York during 1991 and 1992. That sentence ran concurrently with the eight-year term he received in 2005.
Harris was released from a federal prison in South Carolina on Jan. 19 and ordered to serve three years of probation. Harris faces up to 150 years in prison if he is convicted on all arson charges.