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North Carolina man sentenced to prison, ordered to pay restitution for arson

David Daniel Thomas was sentenced May 19 to 71 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release for arson, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. He also received 33 months on a supervised release revocation from a prior federal conviction that is to be served at the expiration of his arson sentence. Additionally, Thomas will pay $6,000 in restitution. On February 25, 2021, Thomas pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with arson.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Thomas, 24, was living with the victim in Fayetteville, North Carolina in December 2019. In the early morning hours of December 14, 2019, the defendant and the victim began arguing. “The defendant attempted to set the victim’s car on fire by inserting a rag into the fuel filler and lighting it, however, he was unsuccessful in starting a fire,” stated the release. “The argument resulted in the victim leaving the apartment with her son and calling law enforcement. When the officers arrived, the victim came back to her apartment. The officers were unable to contact the defendant, who had left the area. The victim spoke to law enforcement and then left the apartment complex again.”

After the victim and law enforcement left, the defendant returned to the apartment, according to the release. “He removed his belongings from the apartment and then started a fire in the closet of the victim’s bedroom. The fire quickly spread throughout the apartment and destroyed all the victim’s personal belongings,” stated the release. “Law enforcement and fire investigators found the defendant’s belongings in a wooded area nearby and retrieved the surveillance footage of the apartment complex. The surveillance footage showed the defendant removing his personal belongings and going in and out of the apartment right before it was engulfed in flames.”

The Fayetteville Fire Department was able to contain the fire to one apartment and no one was injured during the fire. Occupants of the surrounding apartments were notified by other residents of the apartment complex and were able to get out of their homes safely.

The Fayetteville Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the fire. They determined the fire was intentionally set and originated in the closet of the master bedroom.

“Thomas was arrested two days later and confessed to trying to set the victim’s car on fire. He initially denied setting the apartment fire but ultimately admitted to lighting a pair of the victim’s jeans on fire and said the fire got out of control,” stated the release.

At the time of the arson, Thomas was on supervised release for a prior federal conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, 280 grams or more of cocaine base and a quantity of marijuana. His supervised release was revoked for the new criminal conduct.

G. Norman Acker III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fayetteville Fire Department investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charity Wilson prosecuted.

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