A man accused of covering up an arson fire in exchange for $10,000 will spend at least six months in prison, a judge ordered Wednesday.
Randell E. Williams pleaded guilty to accessory to arson after a fire destroyed his friend’s Harrison, Idaho, home.
According to a Kootenai County sheriff’s report, Williams had been staying at Rodney Perry’s log home on Jenny Lane in September 1994.
Williams told deputies that on the night of the fire, Perry had fallen asleep in a separate building.
Williams claimed he tried to start a fire in the house’s wood stove by using gasoline. The fire accidentally got out of control and destroyed the log home, Williams told sheriff’s officials.
But he later recanted that story. He told authorities that Perry had started the fire, said Lansing Haynes, Kootenai County deputy prosecutor. Williams said Perry then offered him $10,000 to claim he accidentally had started the fire.
“I didn’t help him start the fire,” Williams told Judge Gary Haman on Wednesday. “I tried to put it out.”
Haynes said the prosecutor’s office still is deciding whether to file charges against Perry. Although he declined to discuss the specifics of the case, Haynes told the judge that prosecutors are undecided whether to file arson or insurance fraud charges.
Haman sentenced Williams to five years in prison for being an accessory to arson but made him eligible for parole after two years.
However, the judge retained jurisdiction in the case. That means Williams first will spend 180 days in an evaluation program. If he does well, the judge may decide to put him on probation after six months.