Arson Plea Results in Prison Time
Pretty much anyone would agree that bed bugs are awful and that, given half a chance, they would do whatever was necessary to get rid of them. But as it turns out, some of the more…. extreme bed bug removal methods may actually be criminal, as was the case for an Ann Arbor man who was recently sentenced for arson.
Arson charges are no joke, and 54-year-old Tommie Toldeo Cotton unfortunately had to learn that the hard way. According to police reports, officers were dispatched to Miller Manor apartments in Ann Arbor shortly after 7 am on August 26th to address a fire.
Apparently Cotton, one of the apartment complex residents, had set a couch on fire and then dragged it out into the common area. When questioned by investigators as to why he chose to set a couch on fire, the reason he gave was that he thought the couch was infested with bedbugs and he had hoped to get rid of them this way.
Cotton, who was on parole at the time for a prior concealed weapons charge and whose history includes an earlier domestic violence conviction, was initially charged with first and second-degree arson. However he eventually accepted a plea bargain and pled guilty to third-degree arson in November of 2014.
In the Washtenaw County Trial Court, Judge Archie Brown sentenced Cotton to 1 to 10 years in prison. Under Michigan law, third degree arson is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and the possibility of a fine of up to $20,000.00 or three times the value of the damaged or destroyed property, whichever is greater.
Fires, once they are started, are very hard to control, which is why most towns and cities, where people live in close proximity to one another, have laws regarding what may be burned and where. As attorneys we would advise you not to burn anything without spending a little time beforehand finding out what the ordinances are in your area and the regulations for your home, even if you are not the owner. Also, regardless of how lenient your city or township may be regarding the burning of objects, never attempt to burn anything indoors!