Ex-firefighter pleads guilty to arson

Ex-firefighter pleads guilty to arson

6 November 2008

published by www.starbulletin.com

USA — A former Honolulu firefighter accused of setting several brush fires near the Makapuu Lighthouse Road this past summer said in court papers that he smoked crystal methamphetamine or “ice” just before he set the fires.

Kenton Leong, 42, pleaded guilty in Circuit Court yesterday to three counts of arson.

He was charged with two counts of first-degree arson, a class A felony punishable by a mandatory 20-year prison term, and one count of second-degree arson, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

But in a plea deal with the state, Leong pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree arson and agreed to a 10-year prison term when he is sentenced in January. He also agreed to pay the cost of putting out the fires.

At Alan Davis Beach on July 17, firefighters quickly snuffed out the brush fires, which did not threaten any structures or injure anyone.

“There were people in the area whose lives were endangered because of the fire, and that’s the reason for the charge,” said Kevin Takata, deputy prosecutor.

He said the state agreed to the plea deal because of Leong’s cooperation and his years of service.

“He gave a full confession, was rather candid in describing his problems and battle with crystal methamphetamine. He’s in treatment right now and we wish him all the best,” Takata said.

Leong was a fire rescue specialist when the Honolulu Fire Department dismissed him in March after 17 years of service.

He told police he was dismissed because there was an issue concerning a urinalysis test and that the drug was medication to increase his red blood count to recover more quickly for triathlon training.

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