In exchange for his guilty plea to federal arson charges, the U. S. Attorney's office has agreed to not seek more than a five-year sentence for Webb City businessman Keith Erwin McBride.
McBride pleaded guilty earlier this week in U. S. District Court in Springfield.
He had been charged after burning his business, Coin-Op, which leased coin-operated vending machines and amusement machines and games to four-state businesses.
The crime was described in court documents filed today. "In the early morning hours of April 14, 2005, defendant intentionally set fire to the building housing Coin Op, Inc. In doing so, he constructed an incendiary device consisting of a cardboard box, a candle, paper, and a container holding several gallons of gasoline. The gas container was placed on top of the cardboard box, along with loose papers and the candle.
"Defendant intended that the candle, when lit, would burn down to the papers, which would then ignite the box, which would consume and collapse, causing the gasoline to spill from the container and ignite. Defendant placed this device on the loft landing area of his building and lit the candle."
Before doing that, the documents said, McBride "unhooked the gas lines for two appliances in the building to allow natural gas to flow into the building and add to the combustion." After that, McBride went to a nearby warehouse he owned. At 5 a.m., a passing motorist saw the fire and reported it.
"When firefighters responded, they found (Coin Op) locked and had to use force to gain entry. The fire was initially confined to the loft landing and storage area. However, there was a flashover and the fire spread quickly, subsequently engulfing the entire building. Firefighters noticed a smell of gasoline in and around the business, and the fire marshal later determined the fire was arson and started in the loft landing and storage area."
According to the documents, the insurance adjustor estimated replacement cost of the building to be $288,935 with the insurable actual cash value $224,134. The building and its contents were insured by United Fire and Casualty in Joplin.
After a standoff with police, McBride was arrested and was later hospitalized for mental evaluation for depression. When questioned by officers, he admitted to setting the fire.