Naperville man formally charged in setting fire to Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora

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CHICAGO (AP) — A suburban Chicago contractor accused of setting fire to an air traffic control facility has been formally charged.

The U.S. Attorney's office announced the charges Friday against 37-year-old Brian Howard of Naperville.

The September fire in Aurora forced the shutdown of O'Hare and Midway airports.

Howard was a contract employee working at the facility. Authorities say he cut cables and set fire to a basement telecommunications room.

He is charged with one count of willfully setting fire to, damaging, destroying or disabling an air navigation facility; and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.

If found guilty, Howard faces up to 30 years in prison.

His attorney, Ron Safer, says Howard has "always accepted responsibility for his conduct" and they believe the charges are fair.

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