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Store Manager Turned Arsonist to blame ARAs

A store manager-turned-arsonist set fire to his exotic pet shop last week and masked the crime by making the blaze look like the work of an animal activist group, police said.

Thanh Trinh, 42, of Charlestown, was in the process of buying Boston Tropical Fish and Reptile when he intentionally set fire to the Cambridge shop with the help of Zachary Azzam, a 17-year-old Cambridge resident and Dennis Nickerson, 21, of Somerville, according to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.

Trinh, Azzam and Nickerson were arrested Friday afternoon and arraigned in Cambridge District Court. The three men were charged with willful burning of a building, malicious killing of animals, cruelty to animals, larceny over $250, and larceny from a building.
Nickerson and Azzam are due back in court on Nov. 6 for a probable cause hearing.

The pet store at 243 Monsignor O'Brien Highway was gutted by several mysterious fires on Sept. 27 at about 9:50 p.m., killing some of the exotic pets inside. "No more exploitation of animals" was spray-painted in black outside the front door.

Police allege that Trinh vandalized the building to make it look appear that the fire was set by an animal activist group.

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