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Franklin man charged with arson, insurance fraud related to fire at own home

The owner of the Franklin home that caught fire twice in one day is being held on $50,000 cash bail on four felony charges, including arson, related to the second fire.

Philip Rudolph, 50, was arraigned in Franklin’s district court yesterday following his arrest Monday. In addition to arson, he is charged with insurance fraud, reckless conduct and being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon. Rudolph does not yet have a lawyer and could not enter a plea because all four charges are felonies.

Rudolph’s home at 308 Salisbury Road, which he owns with his wife, Maureen Rudolph, caught fire twice Nov. 15. The first fire started in the basement about 11 a.m. and was quickly extinguished. The house then caught fire again about 4 p.m., and was destroyed. Rudolph’s charges are related to the second fire, but the state fire marshal’s office is continuing to investigate in collaboration with the Franklin police and fire departments.

In court, Rudolph appeared agitated and repeatedly tried to defend himself, saying he didn’t know what the charges were about. He then blamed the police for badgering him and said they tried to manipulate his wife. He added, “I know the people that are behind this.” Judge Mark Weaver told him several times that the point of the arraignment was not to discover the truth of the charges, and advised Rudolph to remain silent until he has a lawyer.

“I love my family, this is ludicrous,” Rudolph said, approaching tears at several points. His wife was in the courtroom with her head in her hands for most of the arraignment. They have two children, ages 8 and 12. Rudolph is disabled and does not have a job, he said in court.

Rudolph has one previous felony conviction, for robbery in the early 1980s, and has faced numerous criminal charges since 2007, including criminal mischief and several violations of probation, protective orders and bail conditions. Maureen Rudolph temporarily had a protective order against him, and he violated it in September 2011, according to court records. He was sentenced to 76 days in jail and was subject to two years of good behavior and a mental health evaluation, according to records. The two have since reconciled and were living together at the time of the fire.

He has also been arrested for operating a motor vehicle without a license and failure to obey inspection requirements.

Prosecutor Chris Ahern requested $100,000 bail and said Rudolph posed a risk to the community and was a flight risk. Weaver decided on $50,000 cash bail with several conditions. Among them is that Rudolph is not allowed on the property at 308 Salisbury Road. He is being held in Merrimack County Jail.

Rudolph and his wife purchased the single-family, two-story home with three bedrooms in 2001, according to city records. The property was assessed at $167,800 in April 2012.

In 2010, LRG Healthcare, Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital filed a petition to attach a $24,000 lien on the property, records show.

Rudolph also owns a house at 127 Flaghole Road in Andover, according to records. That property was last assessed at $89,200.

He is scheduled to appear in court for a probable cause hearing Dec. 4.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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