BISMARCK, N.D. — A U.S. Marine Corps recruiter is accused of starting seven small fires in a recruiting station in a Bismarck strip mall and fabricating a story about the incident.
Authorities allege Anthony DeGroot, 29, set the fires the day after Christmas and later told police he had been knocked unconscious by a visitor and awoke to find himself duct-taped inside a building filling with smoke.
No one was hurt in the fire. DeGroot was taken to a hospital to be checked and released with no apparent injuries, police Detective Dean Clarkson said in court documents. Damage to the building was estimated at $30,000.
DeGroot faces a felony arson charge and a misdemeanor count of giving false information to law enforcement. He could be sentenced to up to 11 years in prison if convicted. Court documents do not list an attorney for him and a listed telephone number could not be found. He appeared in court Wednesday but did not enter pleas, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
DeGroot told South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell that he is a 10-year Marine veteran from Utah who has lived in Bismarck for about a year.
Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Nesvig recommended that DeGroot not be allowed contact with the recruiting station, but DeGroot said he would be violating such an order by contacting his commanding officers.
“That is where I work, sir,” he told the judge.
Haskell did not include a no-contact order in DeGroot’s bond but said he would add one later if officials at the recruiting station requested it.