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Man admits arson

Prosecutors plan to recommend 10 years in prison for two fires

Anthony W. Sotin pleaded guilty to two counts of arson Tuesday for recent fires in Spokane Valley.

A federal grand jury last month indicted Sotin on charges that he set fire to his car and a commercial building on East Nora Avenue by the freeway. He also was charged with wire fraud for allegedly filing a fraudulent insurance claim on his car.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the count of wire fraud and recommend a 10-year prison sentence in exchange for Sotin’s guilty plea on the two arson counts. Sotin could have faced at least 35 years in prison if convicted by a jury on all three counts.

U.S. District Court Judge William Fremming Nielsen noted that the court did not have to accept the plea agreement and could have the sentences served consecutively or impose more than the minimum.

The car had been seized by a local car repair business for nonpayment.

Prosecutor Tim Durkin said Sotin asked employees if he could get his belongings out of the car then “stole the vehicle and removed it from the lot,” Durkin said. He later allegedly set it on fire with a propane torch.

Nielsen questioned Sotin on whether the prosecutor’s facts in the plea agreement were correct. “Yes, sir,” Sotin said. Nielsen asked Sotin what he did to the car. Sotin paused, then said “There was a propane tank …”

“Did you set fire to the car?” Nielsen said. “Yes,” Sotin said.

The plea agreement also calls for Sotin to have three years of supervised probation after he’s released and pay restitution for both fires.

Nielsen ordered that Sotin remain in custody until his sentencing hearing, which is set for May 27 before Judge Justin Quackenbush.

Sotin, 42, has a lengthy criminal record dating back to age 14. He has previous convictions for assault, burglary, theft, forgery, malicious mischief and arson.