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Man pleads guilty in city burning case

August 02, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

A man charged with setting fire to the former City Light Plant in March pleaded guilty Monday in Washington County Circuit Court to second-degree malicious burning and theft less than $500, according to court records.

Randy C. McGowan, 45, of no fixed address, was sentenced by Circuit Judge John H. McDowell to serve 18 months in prison for malicious burning, to run consecutive to any sentence he is serving or obligated to serve. McDowell ordered that he serve 12 months in prison, consecutive to the 18-month term, for theft under $500, according to court records.

According to charging documents, City of Hagers-town Code Compliance Officer John Lestitian was inspecting the property at the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Memorial Boulevard and saw smoke in the back of the building that appeared to be coming from inside. Lestitian also saw two men around the back of the building, documents state. When Hagerstown Police Department officers and Hagerstown Fire Department firefighters arrived, they found two men at the back of the building, according to charging documents.

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When the building was checked, burning ordinary combustible materials were found on the second floor and the fire was extinguished, documents state.

A juvenile told Hagerstown Assistant City Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven that he was with two men inside the building and watched them set a fire to burn rubber off the contents to collect the metals to sell, according to charging documents.

The building is a "5-6 story" industrial building, which was vacant, according to documents. McGowan and the others allegedly broke into the storehouse of the property, which was owned by Miller Metals in Virginia at the time of the charges, according to court records.

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