DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York

For Immediate Release

Friday, February 17, 2017
Richard S. Hartunian
, United States Attorney
Contact: AUSA Wayne A. Myers

Saratoga Springs Man Pleads Guilty to Testifying Falsely in Arson-Homicide Investigation

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Richard Ramsey, age 48, of Saratoga Springs, New York, pled guilty today to two counts of providing false testimony to a federal grand jury investigating a fire that killed four people in Schenectady and seriously injured another.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) New York Field Division.

As part of his guilty plea, Ramsey admitted that he made irreconcilably contradictory statements under oath before a grand jury conducting an investigation into the May 2, 2013 arson at 438 Hulett Street in Schenectady, New York, which caused the deaths of David Terry and three young children, seriously injured another child, and destroyed the building and the personal property inside. Ramsey admitted that, on October 11, 2013 and January 10, 2014, he testified regarding specific events that occurred on May 1-2, 2013. On May 5, 2016, Ramsey gave irreconcilably contradictory testimony about those events. The events included declarations that Ramsey had allowed another man, Robert Butler, to use Ramsey’s car to drive from Saratoga Springs to Schenectady in the early morning hours of May 2, 2013.

United States Richard S. Hartunian said: “Perjury cannot, and will not, be tolerated. Ramsey’s decision to lie to a federal grand jury reflects a shocking disregard for the law and the victims of this horrific crime. My office and our law enforcement partners remain fully committed to securing justice for the victims and their families. And let there be no doubt: this remains an active investigation.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict said: "Richard Ramsey’s repeated lies to ATF Special Agents and the grand jury served only to hinder the investigation of the Hulett Street fire, and to further victimize those who have already suffered so much because of that heinous crime."

In pleading guilty, Ramsey admitted that:

  • On October 11, 2013, Ramsey’s testimony about the events of May 2, 2013 included the following:
  • On May 1, 2013, at approximately noon, Butler and Ramsey met in person in Saratoga Springs. At that time, Butler asked to borrow Ramsey’s car, and Ramsey agreed. Ramsey was awakened on May 2, 2013 at approximately 3 a.m. to the sound of his car starting, looked outside his window, and saw that it was gone from its parking space. Ramsey assumed Robert Butler had taken the car, as they had discussed on May 1, 2013, and went back to bed. At 7 a.m., Ramsey woke and the car was back in its parking spot. Ramsey inspected the car and discovered that the spare key, which he normally kept in the glove compartment, was still in the ignition. Ramsey had, on an earlier occasion, told Robert Butler he kept a spare key in the glove compartment of the car.
  • On January 10, 2014, Ramsey’s testimony about the events of May 2, 2013 included the following:
  • On May 1, 2013, between 11:30 a.m. and noon, Butler called Ramsey and asked to borrow Ramsey’s car. Ramsey agreed and told Butler that he would drive the car to Jefferson Terrace in Saratoga Springs, park it there, and leave the keys on the floorboard. On May 1, 2013, Ramsey drove the car to Jefferson Terrace, parked it, and left the keys on the floorboard. A third party who lived at Jefferson Terrace drove Ramsey back to work. The following morning, May 2, 2013, Ramsey returned to pick up the car and saw that it was not parked in the same spot and had only a half tank of gas instead of a full tank of gas.
  • On May 5, 2016, Ramsey’s testimony about the events of May 2, 2013 included the following:
  • Ramsey’s testimony on October 11, 2013, about the events of May 1-2, 2013, was untrue. Butler did not ask to borrow Ramsey’s car on May 1, 2013. Ramsey did not wake up at 3 a.m. on May 2, 2013 and hear his car being driven off. Ramsey did not find his spare key in the ignition of his car on the morning of May 2, 2013.

Ramsey’s testimony on January 10, 2014, about the events of May 1-2, 2013, was untrue. Ramsey did not drive his car and park it at Jefferson Terrace on May 1, 2013. Ramsey did not pick up his car at Jefferson Terrace on May 2, 2013 and did not discover that it had a half tank of gas instead of a full tank of gas.

Ramsey faces up to 5 years in prison, and a maximum $250,000 fine, on each count of conviction, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Sentencing is scheduled for June 13, 2017 at 10 a.m. before Senior United States District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe.

The charges resulted from an ongoing investigation being conducted by the ATF, the Schenectady Police Department, and the Schenectady Fire Department. The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U. S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Assistant United States Attorney Wayne A. Myers.

The ATF notes that there is a reward of up to a total of $40,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the arson that occurred on May 2, 2013 at 438 Hulett Street in Schenectady, resulting in personal injury and death. All information will be treated confidentially and the callers will remain anonymous if requested. Anyone having information is encouraged to call ATF at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473), or email ATFTips@atf.gov, or contact ATF through its web site at www.atf.gov/contact/atf-tips. Tips may also be submitted to ATF through the “report it” app, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, or by visiting www.reportit.com.

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Field Division: New York Field Division