D.C. Man Pleads Guilty to Setting Pair of Apartment Building Fires, One Aggravated Assault

May 23, 2005

United States Attorney Kenneth Wainstein announced that Gregory Bellas, 26, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in D.C. Superior Court before the Honorable Rafael Diaz to two counts of arson and one count of aggravated assault.

The defendant, who faces a maximum of 30 years in prison under the statute, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22, 2005. Under the recently adopted voluntary Superior Court guidelines, the defendant faces a likely sentence of between 90 and 216 months in prison.

The defendant’s reported crime spree lasted over a period of 10 days in February 2005. According to the government’s evidence, on Jan. 26, 2005, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend evicted him from her home, which was located in the 1700 block of Trenton Place, SE, Washington, D.C. (PSA 704).

On Feb. 1, 2005, the defendant reportedly returned to his ex-girlfriend’s home around 3:30 a.m. and tried to kick in her front door. When the defendant failed to gain entry, he poured gasoline outside the front door and ignited it. The ex-girlfriend called 911. The D.C. Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the fire, which was burning at the only exit from the second floor residence. Two adults and five children were present in the apartment when defendant set the fire.

When the defendant was evicted by his ex-girlfriend, he moved into the home of another acquaintance. On Feb. 9, 2005, that acquaintance confronted the defendant about what he had done to his ex-girlfriend’s home. He reportedly became enraged and admitted that he had tried to kill his ex-girlfriend and her children. Concerned, the acquaintance demanded that the defendant leave immediately. The defendant responded by kicking, strangling, and smothering the acquaintance. As she crawled into the hallway of her apartment building to seek help, the defendant followed. He hit her in her head with a pole repeatedly as she screamed for help. The police responded to the scene and transported the acquaintance to the hospital, where she remained until the afternoon of Feb. 10, 2005.

After the acquaintance was released from the hospital on Feb. 10, she went to her sister’s apartment, located in 3000 block of Stanton Road, SE, Washington, D.C., to recuperate. In the early morning hours of Feb. 11, 2005, the defendant reportedly went to that apartment and poured gasoline at the front door of the apartment, and set it on fire.

The fire quickly spread throughout the inside of the apartment, ultimately engulfing the entire apartment. Three adults and four children were forced to jump to safety out of the apartment’s third floor window before the fire department arrived and extinguished the fire.

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