Former maintenance worker pleads guilty to starting Kozy fire in Duluth
Feb 27, 2013 (Duluth News Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A Duluth man has pleaded guilty to starting a fire that damaged part of the Kozy apartment complex.
Mark Thomas Starkovich, 56, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to one count of starting a negligent fire with the value of property $301 to $2,499, a gross misdemeanor. He had been charged with the felony offense of negligently causing a fire that did more than $2,500 damage and trespassing. Starkovich had been scheduled to go to trial Tuesday.
An issue in the case was determining the value of the damage caused by the fire Starkovich started in light of an earlier, much more destructive fire, prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme said.
District Court Judge Shaun R. Floerke ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for April 22.
Starkovich was accused of starting the April 6 fire while trying to ignite his marijuana pipe. The fire occurred in the part of the complex that was largely unaffected by the Nov. 15, 2010, fire that emptied the apartments and left more than 50 people homeless.
According to the criminal complaint, Starkovich was a former lead maintenance worker employed by building owner Eric Ringsred at the Kozy complex. A Ringsred employee viewed a surveillance video and identified Starkovich as the man seen entering the building. The video doesn't show anyone else entering or exiting the laundry area around the time of the fire.
Court records indicate that Starkovich was convicted in 2003 of giving false information to police. He also has convictions for assault, disorderly conduct, violating an order for protection and for possessing Percodan and a small amount of marijuana.
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