Arrest made in arson of home owned by councilwoman

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said a North Philly home she owned was robbed and set on fire early yesterday.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said a North Philly home she owned was robbed and set on fire early yesterday.
Posted: March 31, 2014

A neighbor of City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez has been charged with breaking into her unoccupied rowhouse in North Philadelphia and then setting it ablaze during a burglary.

Edwin Diana, 23, of the 2100 block of North Palethorp Street, lives less than two blocks from the councilwoman's rowhouse on the 2000 block of North Hancock Street.

Police said Diana set the fire during an early-morning break-in Friday in which he made off with jewelry and electronics.

He was taken into custody Saturday after detectives found some of the stolen jewelry in a pawnshop, and found some of the councilwoman's stolen possessions in his house, police said.

In an e-mail to The Inquirer, the councilwoman said she has known Diana and his family "for most of the 17 years my family and I have lived in the Norris Square community."

"It's a very unfortunate situation," she wrote, declining to comment further.

Quiñones Sánchez and her husband, Tomas Sánchez, moved from the North Hancock rowhouse six months ago to a home two blocks away in part so he could challenge longtime State Sen. Christine Tartaglione in this year's Democratic primary.

The fire was reported at 5:33 a.m., and Philadelphia firefighters knocked it down in 15 minutes. The interior of the three-story home was severely damaged, and windows had been blown out by the fire's intense heat. The Fire Marshal's Office and the ATF said two separate fires were set inside.

Many household items were damaged, Quiñones Sánchez said, including her husband's art collection. Two televisions were taken, she said.

Diana was awaiting arraignment Saturday night on charges of arson, burglary, and related offenses.


bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118

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