Arson case heading to trial

December 8, 2014
Pates

Pates

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — The arson case against the Hesperia businessman and former village councilman, David Sean Pates, who is accused of burning his restaurant last spring, has been set for trial in April, Oceana County Prosecutor Joe Bizon told 27th Circuit Court Judge Anthony Monton Monday morning, Dec. 8.

Pates was initially scheduled to appear in court Monday with his attorney Matthew Ryan Kacel for an adjourned pretrial hearing. But the matter cannot be resolved, Bizon said, so it is headed for trial, beginning April 8, at 8:30 a.m. The prosecutor said there will be a final status conference, Feb. 23.

Kacel, who appeared in court with Pates last month, indicated that Pates was slated to undergo a polygraph test, so his pretrial was adjourned.

Pates, a co-owner of the popular Hesperia House restaurant, is currently out on bond after posting 10 percent of $25,000 when

Hesperia House Restaurant

Hesperia House Restaurant

he turned himself in to authorities in September for allegedly setting his own restaurant on fire. Pates is being charged with third-degree arson, which is a 10-year felony, and preparing to burn real property, a five-year felony. A plea bargain was in the works that entailed a guilty plea to count I in exchange for a dismissal of count II, Bizon told Monton at the November hearing. If the plea bargain had been accepted, the prosecution was recommending a maximum of 90 days in jail.

Pates was arrested in North Carolina, and surrendered to local authorities on an outstanding warrant Sept. 30. The OCSO issued a two-count felony warrant for Pates at the end of August for allegedly committing arson to the restaurant last April.

The restaurant, which is still standing, has not been open for business since the alleged arson occurred, the night of April 29, said Lt. Craig Mast of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office. Hesperia House is located at 205 S. Division St. in the village limits.

“It was deemed that both fires were not naturally occurring,” Mast said. “There was no link of connection between the two fires.” There was a time difference of a few hours between the two fires, he said.

Investigators immediately became suspicious of the blaze, because there were two separate fires in a hallway area inside the building, Mast said. The alleged arson was investigated by Deputy Jeff Brown, a fire expert for the Oceana County Fire Investigation Team, as well as experts for the restaurant’s insurance company.

The restaurant sustained “considerable smoke damage,” Mast said, and no injuries occurred from the blaze.

According to the Oceana County Directory, Pates was appointed in November of 2013 to a partial term on the Hesperia Village Council. He was not on the ballot during the midterm election last month.

 

Help Fund Local News

Please consider helping us keep local news active by sending a PayPal payment.