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New Hampshire man admits starting fires in Yarmouth, York

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New Hampshire man admits starting fires in Yarmouth, York

PORTLAND — Everett S. Stickney of Exeter, N.H., pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to two counts of arson for fires that destroyed more than two dozen businesses in January at 500 Route 1 in Yarmouth and at a York office building.

He also pleaded guilty to a third count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Stickney, 29, told U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby he understood the consequences of his guilty plea and said he started the fires on Jan. 2 and Jan 3. 

According to the judge, the penalties for the two arson charges include mandatory minimum imprisonment of five years and up to 20 years, and up to 10 years for the firearm possession charge. Stickney could also face $250,000 in fines and, for the arson charges, could be responsible for twice the loss and restitution to the victims.

The fire in Yarmouth started about 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 2. There were 26 businesses destroyed in the flames and damages were estimated between $2 million and $4 million.

The next day, a medical office less than a mile away at 60 Forest Falls Drive was broken into and about $100 was stolen. According to court documents, police found a deposit bag from the 500 Route 1 office of Dr. Leigh Baker at the burglary site. They also recovered a cigarette butt, a light bulb and a pry bar.

Around 4 p.m. on Jan. 3, there was a burglary in Kennebunk at Wonderbrook Business Center, followed by an attempted burglary in York at a storage facility at 6:45 p.m. Stickney set another fire at 433 Route 1 in York at the Cottage Place Business Complex at about 8:15 p.m. and burglarized two offices. Then, at about 9:30 p.m., another York commercial business, the Meadow Brook Offices, was burglarized.

According to court documents, Stickney stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport from Jan. 1 through Jan. 3 and could be traced to the vicinity of the arson and burglaries by using information associated with his cellular telephone.

Investigators also identified Stickney's black Volkswagen Golf from surveillance photos taken at burglary sites.

The Yarmouth, York and Kennebunk police departments continued to investigate the arson and the burglaries through early March and worked with the U. S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state fire marshal's office.

Stickney was arrested on March 15 in Portsmouth, N.H., when he was seen attempting to break into a storage area. Police in New Hampshire arrested Stickney for nine other burglaries that day, and DNA testing of the cigarette butt found at 60 Forest Falls Drive connected him to the Yarmouth crimes.

Stickney, who was previously convicted of arson in 2000, was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon because he had a .45-caliber pistol when he was arrested.

According to the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, Stickney will be sentenced within the next three to four months after completion of a pre-sentence report by the U.S. Probation office. The report will include Stickney's previous charges, employment history and substance abuse history. 

"There is a fair amount of investigation yet regarding the amount of loss due to the businesses in Yarmouth and the facility itself," Clark said. 

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.