The former tenant of a Clarion apartment building on Wednesday entered a guilty plea to aggravated arson, risking bodily injury, a first-degree felony, in Clarion County plea and sentence court.
In an unrelated case, Randy A. Divelbiss also entered a guilty plea of theft by unlawful taking, a third-degree felony; burglary, a second-degree felony; and theft by unlawful taking of movable property, a third-degree felony.
The arson charge was the result of a fire at South Eighth Avenue around 3 p.m. March 2. Clarion police cleared the apartment building and found one resident in an upstairs apartment. According to the criminal complaint, the cause of the fire was a lit Sterno can.
Divelbiss was stopped by Clarion police, placed under arrest for DUI and transported to Clarion Hospital for a blood test, according to the complaint.
Under questioning by police, Divelbiss admitted to setting the fire, according to the complaint. Divelbiss said he was upset with the landlord for evicting him, and said he had been living in his car ever since.
According to police, Divelbiss said he exited his car at the Wendy’s parking lot, walked to the apartment building and entered the back door to the stairs to the second floor. Divelbiss said he lit the Sterno and set it on one of the lower steps near the door.
Divelbiss then moved the Sterno to the top of the steps and set it on the next-to-the-top step and walked away, the complaint said. He then left the building and returned to his car.
Divelbiss could face up to six years in state prison on the aggravated arson charge.
Another contractor reported Feb. 25 that he had 49, 3/4-inch brass strainers, valued at $1,520, taken from the site on Feb. 15.
A search of Divelbiss’ vehicle for a separate investigation, the complaint said, found multiple tools, wiring and other items, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, police found a receipt for copper, yellow brass and insulated copper that Divelbiss had sold to a local scrap yard on March 1.