Hesperia House co-owner pleads to arson

April 2, 2015
David Pates with his attorney, Matthew Kacel.

David Pates with his attorney, Matthew Kacel.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — The Hesperia House co-owner and former Hesperia village councilman who burned his restaurant a year ago pleaded “no contest” to third-degree arson Thursday morning, April 2, in 27th Circuit Court, and faces up to 90 days in jail in a plea agreement.

David Sean Pates, 33, who was slated for a jury trial next week, is now scheduled for sentencing May 27 at 9 a.m. He is free on a $25,000/10 percent cash/surety bond.

In exchange for his “no contest” plea to third-degree arson, one count of arson — preparing to burn real property was

Pates raises his right hand as enters his “no contest” plea in 27th Circuit Court Thursday, April 2.

Pates raises his right hand he as enters his “no contest” plea in 27th Circuit Court Thursday, April 2.

dismissed. The prosecution and the defense agreed to a 90-day cap on Pates’ jail time. He was initially facing a maximum of 10 years in prison for third-degree arson and five years for preparing to burn real property.

Pates was arrested last fall in North Carolina, and then surrendered to the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office on an outstanding warrant.

Investigators at the fire scene a year ago immediately became suspicious of the blaze, because there were two separate fires in a hallway area inside the building, and there was a time difference of a few hours between the two fires.

The arson was investigated by Deputy Jeff Brown, a fire expert for the Oceana County Fire Investigation Team, as well as experts for the restaurant’s insurance company, Argo Insurance Co. Restaurant staff and management were interviewed during the investigation.

The popular restaurant, which is still standing, has not been open for business since it burned. No one was injured in the fires.

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