Southwest Wake News

Teen charged with Cary Parkway fire has been jailed again

An Apex teenager who was accused of starting a culvert fire that forced the state to rebuild a section of Cary Parkway two years ago is in trouble with the law again.

Tristan Matthew Zammit, 19, was arrested Saturday and charged with several felony drug crimes after he was stopped for a traffic violation in West Raleigh, according to court records.

Raleigh officer M.P. Taylor stopped Zammit on Western Boulevard, near Clanton Street, just before 10 p.m. Saturday. Zammit was driving a 2014 Dodge Avenger, with temporary license plates registered to Zammit, going west in the eastbound lanes, according to a search warrant made public Monday.

Taylor reported smelling marijuana “emanating from the vehicle,” and asked Zammit and a passenger to sit on the median while he searched the car.

In the search warrant application, Taylor said he turned up four packages of marijuana that each weighed a little more than an ounce, 20 Xanax pills and a clear baggie that contained “an unknown blue powdery substance.” Zammit and the passenger both denied ownership of the drugs, court records show.

Zammit, of 119 Anterbury Drive in Apex, was charged with one count each of possession with intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance; possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance.

Zammit was already scheduled to appear in court in June for a 2014 charge of felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, court records show.

In 2013, Zammit, then 17, was charged with one misdemeanor count of damage to property in connection with the culvert fire on Southwest Cary Parkway, but that charged was later dropped.

The fire started the evening of March 21, 2013. Someone had written the name “Tristan” in melted tar on the headwall of the steel culvert, officials reported.

The fire caused the culvert to collapse, prompting officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation to close that section of Cary Parkway so it could be replaced. NCDOT paid a Connecticut company $482,120 to make repairs.

Cary detectives were led to Zammit after a tipster said he had sent a text message inviting someone to come see what he had done with the culvert, police reported.

Prosecutors dropped the charge against Zammit because “recovery of restitution” was “of greater concern than criminal responsibility,” according to court records filed in December 2013. Last year, on June 16, NCDOT filed a complaint against Zammit with the Wake County Clerk of Court seeking financial compensation for the damaged culvert.

Zammit remained in the Wake County jail Monday afternoon in lieu of a $50,000 bail, a jail spokesman reported.