Charges increase for man accused of arson

Conviction of 1st-degree criminal mischief could net Gottardi 20 years

Posted: Monday, November 29, 2004

Charges have become more severe for the man accused of arson after a September fire at DeHart's Marina.

Rickey Gottardi, 45, was indicted on felony charges of first-degree arson and third-degree criminal mischief after the Sept. 20 incident in Auke Bay. Gottardi has denied he is guilty of accusations that he cut fuel lines at the marina and lit them with a blowtorch.

On Monday, he is scheduled to be arraigned on a charge of first-degree criminal damage, replacing a charge of third-degree criminal damage. A grand jury Wednesday amended the indictment to allege a greater amount of damage was done in the fire. Specific damage claims were not available.

The third-degree charge alleged damage exceeded $500. The amended charge alleges that the total cost of the crime exceeded $100,000.

If convicted of first-degree criminal mischief, Gottardi could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The third-degree charge carried a maximum prison sentence of five years.

First-degree arson also carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The criminal complaint against Gottardi, who lived in a boat at Auke Bay, alleges he told his roommate he was going to burn up the harbor. Gottardi allegedly made two trips with a knife and blowtorch from his boat.

Capital City Fire and Rescue received a call at 4:21 a.m. Sept. 21, stating that the DeHart's ramp was on fire, according to court records. Juneau Fire Marshal Rich Etheridge reported that he found that the fuel lines, made of reinforced rubber-like hose, had been severed at the top of the ramp.

The fire, which reportedly shot flames as high as 60 feet, damaged the ramp and caused rocks on the beach to explode. No boats were damaged and no one was injured.

In addition to fire damage, police initially reported they were figuring cleanup costs. The fire left about 1,600 gallons of fuel - mostly diesel - floating in the harbor.

Gottardi is charged with a misdemeanor charge of oil pollution, along with the alleged felonies.

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