Bail reduced for alleged arsonist of Gamble-Huff offices

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As media question alleged arsonist's wife yesterday, Kenny Gamble (right), whose offices burned, walks by.

Bail for Christopher Cimini, arrested last week for allegedly torching the studio and offices of Philadelphia International Records, was halved yesterday to $50,000 by a Municipal Court judge.

Cimini, who turned 28 behind bars Saturday, failed to post 10 percent of the new bail, which kept him locked up at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He's charged with arson, burglary, trespassing and related offenses.

Judge Charles Hayden postponed Cimini's preliminary hearing from yesterday to March 23 to give prosecutor Jessalyn Gillum time to get surveillance video from the crime scene, on Broad Street near Spruce.

It was in that building that PIR founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff created the "Sound of Philadelphia," writing and producing dozens of hits for the O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, and Michael Jackson and his brothers, among others.

"This is a situation where somebody violated our space, and we want to find out why they did it," Gamble said outside the Criminal Justice Center. "I'm looking for justice; I want the criminal-justice system to work because if someone is an arsonist and they burn a place down, they should receive the full, maximum penalty of the law," he added. He vowed to rebuild his artistic and corporate home of 40 years.

Insurance adjusters are still tallying up the damages, he said, which could be in the millions.

Defense attorney Gina A. Capuano said that Cimini hoped to make bail later this week. She said police told her that Cimini was "extremely intoxicated at the time, possibly four times the legal limit," when the blaze began the early morning of Feb. 21.

Cimini, a member of Iron Workers Union Local 405, broke into the building and used a lighter to see, and was captured on surveillance video using the lighter to start the fire on the third floor.

Rescued from a third-floor window by firefighters, Cimini was arrested Feb. 24 after police viewed the surveillance video.

"He said he's sorry," said Deanna Cimini, his wife, who attended the hearing with the couple's children, Brianna, 8, and Christopher, 6. "He doesn't know what happened; he can't remember anything."

She said that her husband had no prior arrests and was a good family man. "He's not a monster like they're trying to make him out to be," she said. "He's a father, he's a husband, he's a friend, he's an uncle, he's a great man."