Father in deadly Benzinger fire ordered to stay away from family

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Investigators say Joseph Conti started the fire in his Lovejoy home when he lit a cigarette with a blowtorch and set it down on the bed.

At the time of the fire, there was an order of protection filed against Conti by his wife. The order of protection stemmed from a harassment incident on New Year's Eve. 

In Buffalo City Court on Tuesday morning, Conti's defense attorney asked Judge JaHarr Pridgen to dismiss the harassment charges, saying his one incident didn't rise to the 'course of conduct' for harassment. The prosecution objected. 

Judge Pridgen says she will reserve judgment until Conti's next court appearance on March 5th. Defense will submit a written request to dismiss charges at that time.

Conti's order of protection was modified so that he would be able to attend his son Anthony Conti's wake and funeral. Judge Pridgen reinstated old terms, ordering Conti to not contact Lisa Conti. He will also need permission from family court in order to visit his other children, which sources say are in custody of Child Protective Services.

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