Man pleads guilty to arson charges in Charleston
The community breathed a collective sigh of relief in 2012 after investigators arrested Kenny Boone in connection with a trio of suspicious fires that fit the pattern of a decade-long series of arsons that had terrorized Charleston.
Boone, 56, headed off for a 10-year prison sentence Thursday after admitting to setting one fire and attempting to ignite another in Hollywood. But dozens more cases in the arson spree remain unsolved, leaving an open question of whether other firebugs may still be at large.
Since Boone's arrest, Charleston fire officials said, they haven't seen any additional fires that fit the pattern of the more than 80 arsons that struck the peninsula since 2000. But they have stopped short of saying Boone was responsible for any blazes beyond the three for which he was initially charged.
"At this time, we don't have enough evidence to bring additional charges," Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh said, "but there's still the potential for future charges."
Several residents whose homes were damaged in the arson spree attended Boone's plea hearing Thursday in Charleston, even though he had not been charged with any of those fires.
Boone's sister told the judge that the attendance of those victims was irrelevant to her brother's case.
"Those that are here on behalf of the city's other fires have nothing to do with what Kenny has done and what he is remorseful for today," Teresa Boone Crecy said.
Boone, a former contractor from Glenwood Avenue in Charleston, pleaded guilty to third-degree arson for setting a Hollywood home's porch on fire in September 2012. He also pleaded guilty to attempted arson after prosecutors said he planned to light the same home on fire in November 2012.
An informant for the Charleston Police Department helped foil that plan before the fire was set, resulting in Boone's arrest, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said Boone was trying to profit from the fires by being hired for the repair work following the blaze.
Julazadeh asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence for the charges, which would have amounted to 20 years, if run concurrently.
"Boone committed crimes against this community and decided to use fire as his weapon of choice," Julazadeh said. "We are very fortunate no one died as a result of his actions."
Another third-degree arson charge against Boone, in which he was accused of setting fire to a home at 49 Montagu St. in Charleston, was dismissed by prosecutors.
Ninth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Meg Sprinkle, who prosecuted the case, said that charge was tossed "because we did not believe that we could prove it at trial due to some issues with the case and the fact that it was the oldest charge."
A solicitation to commit arson charge also was dismissed as part of a plea agreement, Sprinkle said.
Before he was sentenced, Boone apologized to the victims, the Charleston Fire Department and his family for the embarrassment he caused them. "Please forgive me," he said. "I'm truly sorry."
His attorney, David Aylor, said Boone is happy the case is over and he is ready to move on. He told the judge this case was about how Boone took an economic hardship and turned it into a criminal activity, using a shortcut to gain money for himself and his family.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.