Soulis gets restitution, 60 days in truck plaza fire caseA Casselton, N.D., man was sentenced to 60 days Thursday after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy. Scot Soulis was sentenced in Southeast District Court in Jamestown for his role in the Feb. 3, 2010, fire at S&R Truck Plaza. Criminal conspiracy is a Class B felony. A criminal attempt charge, also a Class B felony, was dismissed.
A Casselton, N.D., man was sentenced to 60 days Thursday after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy.
Scot Soulis was sentenced in Southeast District Court in Jamestown for his role in the Feb. 3, 2010, fire at S&R Truck Plaza. Criminal conspiracy is a Class B felony. A criminal attempt charge, also a Class B felony, was dismissed.
Soulis co-owned the S&R Truck Plaza with Dale Redinger. Police and firefighters responded to the burning building at 1609 Business Loop East just after 2:30 a.m. Feb. 13. A large portion of the service shop was engulfed in flames, causing damage to a live bottom potato trailer and a 2000 Peterbilt semi tractor. Officials estimate total damage of $1 million.
“I just like to say I’m sorry that the whole thing happened and turned out the way it did. Cost a lot of people a lot of money, cost me a lot of money, cost me everything,” Soulis said.
In June, Joshua Marsaa pleaded guilty to arson in relation to the fire.
Marsaa, a former S&R Truck Plaza night manager, testified at his sentencing hearing that he had worked eight days in a row at the shop. He was there with Soulis, Chad Maley, Donna Rae Rowell and Arlen Lee Schultes around 2:30 a.m. Marsaa said he had given them a ride to the shop after the friends had spent the evening drinking.
Marsaa had testified that Soulis had offered him $20,000 and a guaranteed job if he started the fire.
Marsaa was sentenced to two years in jail with one suspended and 86 days credit for time served. Marsaa is to pay about $1,100 in fees in addition to the restitution.
Assistant State’s Attorney Troy LeFevre had recommended Soulis receive the same sentence.
“From the state’s point of view, Mr. Marsaa would not have done this on his own,” he said.
Defense attorney Russell Myhre disagreed.
He said Soulis’ case differed from Marsaa’s because Marsaa’s criminal history has more felony offenses than Soulis. Soulis had never been convicted of a felony prior to this case. And, Myhre said, Soulis had been drinking that evening, Marsaa hadn’t. Soulis was a successful business person, Myhre said, but after the fire, lost everything including his business reputation, marriage and relationship with his children.
Judge Thomas Merrick sentenced Soulis to five years with all but 60 days suspended at the Stutsman County Corrections Center. He is to pay about $575 in fines and fees as well as $100,000 in restitution. About $8,000 of the restitution is joint and several with Marsaa, meaning they share responsibility for paying it back.
Merrick said the reasoning for that sentence is because Soulis could have prevented the fire, but he needs to return to work so he can start paying restitution.
“He (Soulis) planted the idea if nothing else. And ideas are powerful things,” Merrick said.
Soulis is to submit to a fingerprinting and a DNA sample. He is not to possess or own firearms. He is also to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and complete recommended treatment.
A Class B felony is punishable with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at kryan-anderson@ jamestownsun.com