Lee A. Ragland in a mugshot released by Southold Town Police in October 2017

The man accused of setting fire to a church on Roanoke Avenue early Saturday morning was ordered held without bail by Riverhead Town Justice Lori Hulse this morning.

As a two-time convicted felon, Lee A. Ragland was not eligible for bail in justice court, the judge said.

He was convicted in 2007 of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and in 2017 of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree. He also has multiple prior misdemeanor convictions, according to court records.

Ragland also has a drug possession charge currently pending in Riverhead Justice Court, records show. He was arrested on Sept. 29, 2018 on a charge of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree. That matter is pending before Hulse and he is next due back in court on Nov. 12.

According to the criminal complaint, Ragland intentionally set fire to a garbage receptacle at the rear of Luz En Tu Senda Church at 2:08 a.m. on Oct. 26. The fire caused “severe damage to the west side wall, soffit and interior walls” of the building, the document said. Police said surveillance cameras at the church captured images of a man setting the fire.

An affidavit signed by a church official said the fire caused approximately $50,000 worth of damage to the church.

Hulse signed an order of protection requiring Ragland to stay away from the church.

Riverhead Police charged Ragland with Arson in the Third Degree, a Class C felony.

Ragland was represented at the arraignment by Olga Hopkins Murray, an assigned counsel in the public defender program. She entered a denial of the charge on on his behalf.

Ragland will remain incarcerated in the Suffolk County jail until at least Friday, Nov. 1, the statutory date by which a grand jury must return an indictment if he is to be prosecuted on a felony charge.

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.