Man gets prison time for arson

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks man has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for setting his apartment on fire in November. He faces more time for another fire set last month while he was awaiting sentencing.

Daniel Rondon, 18, was arrested after the Nov. 8 fire severely damaged the bathroom of his apartment and forced the evacuation of most of the building.

Rondon admitted starting the blaze by lighting paper towels and garbage. He was originally charged with first-degree arson, and in January agreed to plead no contest to second-degree arson. A sentencing recommendation for the 2 1/2-year term was part of the plea agreement.

At the sentencing hearing Monday, prosecutor Gene Gustafson asked for an additional 1 1/2 years of suspended time, noting the potential danger Rondon posed.

Defender James Cannon argued that Rondon suffered from serious mental problems, and needed help than he needed punishment.

Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly decided to impose the 1 1/2 years of suspended time.

''A fairly extended period of suspended time is appropriate,'' Pengilly said. ''If it turns out that Mr. Rondon can't control himself ... it may reach the point where all we can do is isolate him to prevent more harm to the community.''

Rondon will be placed on probation for five years after he's released. He was ordered to pay $4,118 in restitution.

Rondon also faces two more counts of arson in connection with an April incident in which he reportedly set fire to a pair of floor mats in the stairwells of a Fairbanks apartment building. The fires were put out quickly, though two residents of the building suffered burns in the process. Fire officials say Rondon admitted starting the fires.

In another incident last June, Rondon torched a portable toilet near Lathrop High School. He got a six-month suspended sentence for that fire.

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