Newcomb Hotel fire starter sentenced to probation - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Newcomb Hotel fire starter sentenced to probation

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Mathew Clark Mathew Clark
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) - The man who started the fire that destroyed the historic Newcomb Hotel last year was sentenced Thursday morning in Adams County Circuit Court.

Judge Scott Walden sentenced Mathew Clark, 25, of Quincy, to 48 months of probation. Clark pleaded guilty to one count of felony burglary in early February.

The prosecution was originally asking for four and a half years in prison because of the damage done and the cost associated with the emergency and contract demolition, which was $497,364.52. 

The prosecution argued if Clark were to make a $500 a month payment, he wouldn't be able to pay off the full cost until he was 83 years old. 

However, the defense argued that no one was hurt by the fire, and Clark has and continues to battle mental health issues.  This was also Clark's first felony conviction. 

Under terms of Clark's probation, he cannot possess or live in a house with firearms or illegal substances, he can be tested for drugs and alcohol at any time by his probation officer, and he can not go to a business who's primary sale is alcohol. 

Judge Walden says if Clark is caught stealing again, he could face up to 10 years in prison.  If he violates his probation in any way, he can face up to seven years in prison. Walden also says Clark must continue his mental treatment. 

Clark is in the process of working out a payment plan.  He was released from Adams County Jail Thursday morning after spending 193 days behind bars. 

(Read "Quincy police make arrest in connection with Newcomb Hotel fire")

Clark claimed he accidentally started the fire Sept. 6 while gathering scrap metal. He was arrested 10 days later and charged with burglary and criminal damage over $100,000.
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