The 28-year-old South Philadelphia man who pleaded guilty to torching the legendary studios of Philadelphia International Records studios said yesterday he was too drunk to recall anything that happened that early February morning.
Christoper Cimini, of South Fairhill Street, accepted charges of arson, causing and failing to prevent catastrophe, and criminal trespass and mischief. A burglary charge was dropped because Cimini’s admitted intoxication drew motive into question, said Assistant District Attorney Peter Salib.
“He was caught on video outside and inside, kicking the door in and lighting a fire, so this was never a question of ‘Who done it,’” Salib said.
Cimini faces between 29.5 and 59 years in prison, but prosecutors said they’d likely seek a two-to-four-year sentence. Salib estimated the fire damage at $3.5 million but Philadelphia International only had to pay an $11,000 insurance deductible. The master recordings were not destroyed.
“Even more than the memorabilia destroyed, you can’t replace the recording studios that people wanted to record in because of the history there,” Salib said. There were no injuries at the scene. “This really could have been awful.”
Randy Alexander, of Philadelphia International Records, which begat the “Sound of Philadelphia,” said the company is still deciding on their rebuilding plans.