March 4, 2010

Arsonist could get 20 years in prison

TREVOR MAXWELL

— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — An Exeter, N.H., man faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced this morning for setting two fires in January, including a blaze that destroyed one of the largest commercial buildings in Yarmouth.

Everett Stickney, 30, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of arson. Each counts carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, according to court documents.

Stickney also pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

A fire that started around 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 2 destroyed a three-story commercial building at 500 Route 1 in Yarmouth. More than 25 businesses were displaced, and damage was estimated at $2 million to $4 million. Investigators said some of the businesses were burglarized.

A second fire was set at the Cottage Place Business Complex on Route 1 in York around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 3.

Investigators determined that the fires marked the beginning and end of a series of burglaries at offices and shops along Route 1.

Local police departments, the state Fire Marshal's Office and investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gathered evidence from the burglarized businesses. Evidence included a cigarette butt, a pry bar, a light bulb, fingerprints, file cabinet keys and video surveillance tapes.

The evidence led to Stickney, whose criminal record in New Hampshire includes felony convictions for theft and arson of a motor vehicle.

The investigation was still open when Stickney was arrested on March 15 in Portsmouth, N.H., as he allegedly tried to break into a shed.

Stickney owes restitution to 31 businesses that were damaged, including several doctors' offices, court records show. It is unclear how much money Stickney will be ordered to pay, and over what time period.

His defense lawyer, Carol Sipperly, and the government prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Clark, declined to comment on the case this week.

According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Stickney waived his right to appeal the sentence if it is seven years or less. If the sentence is longer than seven years, he would retain the right to appeal.

Staff writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

tmaxwell@pressherald.com

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