Man accused of $1 million fire gets four years in prison

Blevins ordered to pay $878,638 in restitution

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

A man accused of starting a June fire at a Juneau Self-Storage building, destroying the property of more than 150 people, will spend about four years behind bars.

Michael Blevins, 22, was sentenced today in Juneau Superior Court to seven and a half years in prison with three suspended, three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution. He must receive psychiatric treatment while in prison.

According to court records, the fire, which destroyed the 280-unit building near Lemon Creek, caused an estimated $1 million in damage and endangered the lives of several firefighters.

Blevins pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor count of third-degree theft, and one felony count each of second-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief, stemming from a break-in and fire at the storage building and an unrelated burglary the same day.

Blevins also admitted to violating the conditions of his release because the crimes were committed while he was on probation for a prior offense.

Felony charges of first-degree arson, second-degree theft, and a misdemeanor charge of possessing burglary tools were dropped as part of a plea agreement between defense attorney Michael O'Brien and District Attorney Rick Svobodny.

Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks today ordered Blevins to pay restitution of $878,638. But he said about $13,000 must be paid to the victims, including GHS, who lost property, before the remainder of the restitution is paid to insurance companies. The $13,000 is intended to cover the insurance deductibles that victims had paid. The judge recognized that the rest of the restitution may never be paid.

Blevins and accomplice Cricencio Bagoyo, 23, have been lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center since their arrest in August. They will get credit for time served.

Their charges stem from a burglary at Gastineau Human Services, a nonprofit halfway house in the Lemon Creek area, as well as the burglary and fire at the storage facility, both on June 2.

Bagoyo faced the same charges as Blevins, but pleaded guilty to felony charges of second-degree arson and second-degree theft in November.

As part of a plea agreement between assistant public defender Rob Meachum and Svobodny, a 12-year prison sentence with four years suspended, probation and restitution were recommended for Bagoyo. He is expected to be sentenced Jan. 22.

Blevins and Bagoyo were accused of a short crime spree that began with a break-in at GHS, where they stole more than $1,000 in cash and checks as well as several credit cards, according to court records. The pair then crossed the street to the storage facility where they allegedly stole a number of items and set the place ablaze to cover fingerprints they may have left at the scene, court records said.

Blevins didn't speak at his sentencing.

Judge Weeks and defense attorney O'Brien said Blevins' prospects for rehabilitation were very poor. He said Blevins has fetal alcohol syndrome, and he believes Blevins was talked into committing the crime.

"I'm not that sympathetic to him given the amount of damage and harm his actions caused to the community and his victims," O'Brien said. "On the other hand, when I walk into Lemon Creek and see Mr. Blevins rubbing shoulders with the kind of criminals there, it makes me feel a little sorry for him and realize he doesn't belong in a place like that."

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