Oct. 26--A former volunteer firefighter has reached a plea agreement on charges of arson in Story County for fires set in late 2012 and early 2013.
Brett Graham, 19, of Kelley, a former volunteer with the Kelley fire department, agreed to guilty pleas for two counts of second-degree arson in an agreement with prosecutors, who will in exchange drop charges for a third count of second-degree arson.
The plea agreement was accepted by Judge Dale Ruigh at an Oct. 7 hearing. In the decision, Graham was advised to preserve his right of appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court based on any defect in the guilty plea proceeding.
The charges stemming from a fire Oct. 5, 2012, at the Uthe Party Barn on 520th Street south of Kelley will be dropped as part of the plea agreement, Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown said.
Graham will plead guilty to the arson charges for a fire Jan. 17 at Cyclone Golf Performance Center, on South U.S. Highway 69 south of Ames, and a fire Feb. 14 at a recreational climbing facility near Kelley.
Brown said the decision to drop charges for the Uthe Party Barn fire had to do with the amount of damage at each site.
"At the climbing barn there was significant amount of damage to property, and the one at the Cyclone golf and performance building was essentially a new building," Brown said. "The one at the barn ... was just an old barn. That's why we made the decision."
As part of the agreement for having one count dropped, Graham has agreed to pay restitution for all three fires, Brown said.
Second-degree arson is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
According to Brown, the prosecution will recommend the maximum prison sentence for the two counts Graham pleaded guilty to. Brown said the state is agreed that the sentences may be run concurrently, as long as they run consecutively to the 10 years Graham is currently serving for arson convictions in Boone County.
Graham was convicted of one count of second-degree arson in Boone County in June for setting a fire that killed 12 horses in a barn southwest of Ames. Graham was also ordered to pay $27,000 restitution to the horses' owner.
Scott said Graham is free to recommend his Story County charges are served concurrently with his Boone charges.
Scott did not have damage amounts for each of the Story County fires.
Graham will receive his sentence, including restitution amounts for the three Story County fires, at a hearing Dec. 2.
Graham is currently being held in the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison.
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