MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 9, 2013

Firefighter pleads guilty to setting summer blazes

He'll get deferred sentence

— By Wendy Burton

Phoenix Staff Writer

A volunteer firefighter who admitted to starting several fires near Warner in the summer of 2012 pleaded guilty in Muskogee County District Court on Monday.

Tobey Hadley, 19, entered a blind plea on four counts of third-degree arson. A blind plea is one in which the defendant pleads guilty without a sentencing agreement. He will be sentenced Sept. 19.

Those fires burned acres of pasture land and one dilapidated structure between June 27, 2012, and July 25, 2012.

“To my knowledge, no one was hurt in any of the fires,” Warner Police Chief Terry Thompson said in October. “It just resulted in cost and time that was placed upon our fire department, and other departments that may have responded to the fires.”

Hadley was arrested in October 2012.

He and another volunteer firefighter were booked into the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility on Oct. 18 on the same complaints.

The other firefighter was released, and charges were never filed against him.

The Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office charged Hadley with four counts of third-degree arson, which he pleaded guilty to Monday.

Third-degree arson carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to Oklahoma statutes.

District Judge Mike Norman said Monday during Hadley’s hearing that the prosecution and the defense agreed that Hadley wouldn’t spend time in prison.

“Mr. Vickers said everybody’s agreed to, at worst, 10 years deferred sentence,” Norman said to Hadley, who stood next to his mother during the hearing. “That will be the worst thing that is going to happen.”

The judge was referring to Larry Vickers, Hadley’s attorney. Norman ordered a presentence investigation.

“Mr. Vickers is hoping I will get a good report and I’ll order less than that (10 years deferred),” Norman said to Hadley.

Norman told Hadley there is no deal, however, and because he entered a blind plea, his sentence is up to the judge.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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