Pennsylvania Arsonist Pleads Guilty

July 23, 2010

A suburban Philadelphia man who authorities say tried to pass himself off as a firefighter has pleaded guilty to intentionally setting a fire at a diner.

Twenty-one-year-old Mark Gilliam, of West Bradford, was sentenced Wednesday to 33 to 66 months in state prison for trying to set a fire in the bathroom of the Happy Days diner in Thorndale in January 2009.

Gilliam was among seven suspects charged in connection with a rash of fires in Coatesville and nearby communities that began in February 2008.

Authorities say he purchased firefighting equipment and put strobe lights on his car despite being denied membership in his local fire company.

Gilliam’s guilty plea resolves state and federal charges against him. After credit for time served he will be eligible for parole in 16 months.

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