Plea deal made in sub arsonBy JOHN QUINN
Union Leader Correspondent
November 08. 2012 11:28PM
PORTLAND, Maine - A former civilian painter who pleaded guilty Thursday to setting two fires aboard the USS Miami could serve about 20 years in prison and have to pay some of the $500 million in damages and injuries.
Casey James Fury, 24, who worked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for two years, faces two counts of arson after he confessed to setting a four-alarm fire aboard the $900 million Los Angeles Class submarine May 23 and a smaller fire in the dry dock at the Kittery facility June 12.
Investigators determined Fury, who worked as a painter and sandblaster, started the two fires because he was anxious and wanted to leave work.
Fury, who has been in custody at Cumberland County Jail since his arrest July 22, and his attorney, David Beneman, signed the agreement to plead guilty Tuesday with Thomas Delahanty, U.S. attorney for the District of Maine, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Darcie McElwee and James Chapman.
Delahanty said Fury entered his plea in federal court Thursday.
"The judge accepted it pending on a presentencing investigation," Delahanty said, adding he anticipates the report to be finished in the next three months.
Per federal statute, the first arson charge could keep Fury in prison for the rest of his life, and the second count has a maximum penalty of 25 years.
Both counts would require Fury to be supervised for five years upon his release from prison, according to court records.
As part of the agreement, Fury could be imprisoned no less than 188 months - just over 15.6 years - and no more than 235 months - about 19.6 years, according to court records.
"Should the court reject this recommendation of the parties, the defendant shall be permitted to withdraw his plea and either party shall be permitted to withdraw from this agreement," according to the plea agreement.
"The judge does not have to accept this agreement," Delahanty said.
Fury could be fined up to $500,000 for both charges to pay for the "cost of repairing or replacing any property that is damaged or destroyed, whichever is greater," according to court records.
He would also have to pay a special assessment of $200 for both charges and provide "an amount of restitution payable to the victims of the offenses in an amount to be determined by the court," according to court records.
The victims in the case include the Navy as well as seven firefighters and sailors who were injured during the first fire, which took 12 hours to extinguish.
"The parties have not agreed on the amount of restitution that should be ordered," according to the agreement, which also stated Fury is aware the amount could exceed $400 million.
While repairs to the Miami - in dry dock since March - are under way at the shipyard, the U.S. Navy estimates the damage to be around $450 million.
"I don't think anyone would be able to pay that amount," Delahanty said, adding Fury will have to "pay whatever he could."
Both Fury and the state may "present evidence and make arguments regarding the appropriate amount of restitution," according to the agreement.
If Fury fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, the government can "fully prosecute" him on all charges and use all statements, including ones made as part of the agreement process, according to court records.
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John Quinn may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.