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Former volunteer firefighter gets probation
Former volunteer firefighter Gordon Schafer did more than plead guilty on Monday for his role in setting a house in Fruitland on fire while a resident slept inside.
The 23-year-old Jackson man also promised, as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors, to testify against an unnamed accomplice who has yet to be charged.
Schafer pleaded guilty in court on Monday to a reduced charge of second-degree arson in the August fire of a residence next door to the Fruitland Fire Department on U.S. Highway 61. After Schafer waived his sentencing assessment, Judge William Syler followed the recommendation of prosecutors and placed him on probation.
Schafer's lawyer, Malcolm Montgomery, said it was a case of running with the wrong crowd.
"He's a real good boy," Montgomery said. "He just got led around by someone else and he made a mistake."
Montgomery acknowledged that the plea agreement reducing the charge from first degree arson also called on Schafer to testify, if need be, against an alleged accomplice. Assistant prosecuting attorney Jack Koester confirmed that an accomplice had not been identified, but that could happen soon, he said.
Schafer reported the fire along with another probationary volunteer firefighter. Schafer was the only one arrested, however, following an investigation by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office.
The fire department responded to the scene and the fire was quickly extinguished.
The resident of the home was awakened in time and was not injured.
Koester would offer no timetable as to when charges against the alleged accomplice would be filed.
273 U.S. Highway 61, Jackson, MO