June 24, 2015 Update: A federal judge has sentenced Marine Veteran Anthony DeGroot to two years in prison for burning down a portion of the building where the Marine Corps Recruiting Center resided. In addition to prison time, DeGroot faces two year’s probation and restitution fees of $403,572.19. Federal prosecutors waived the five years mandatory jail time for Arson charges for a guilty plea.
March 7, 2015 (original article)
A U.S. Marine Corps recruiter has plead guilty to starting several small fires at the Armed Services Recruiting Center in Bismarck on December 26, 2013.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that shortly after the incident, Anthony DeGroot was arrested on charges of felony arson and misdemeanor false information to the police.
On the night of the incident, Bismarck Police received a 911 call from a man who reported seeing smoke coming from the building where DeGroot worked. The same man later identified the former recruiter as a man he saw exiting the building with duct tape on his face and wrists and then laying down on the ground.
DeGroot was unresponsive when police officers arrived so they relocated him to a safer location and removed the duct tape. Officers then performed CPR until he was revived. DeGroot was transported to the hospital and released shortly after with no injuries.
When questioned by police, DeGroot claimed that a man came to the recruiting office stating he wanted to join the Marines. He said the man had struck him, knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, he found himself duct taped and the building on fire. He made his way out of the dark building, but collapsed when the cold air hit him.
According to The Bismarck Tribune, the police department, fire department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the fire and found that seven separate fires had been set in the recruiting station. They were located throughout the building including one at DeGroot’s desk and in his locker, another in an office, two in storage rooms and two in the bathrooms. Investigators also found a roll of duct tape in DeGroot’s desk that was the same type on DeGroot’s body.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, DeGroot admitted that by using shredded paper and rubbing alcohol, he set fire to the U.S. Marine Corps property, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage.
Destroyed in the fire were office furniture, electronics and Marine Corps uniforms. There was also damage to the building’s interior walls, ceiling and floor.
“After starting the fires, Anthony Allen DeGroot applied duct tape to his wrists and mouth and walked out of the building and pretended to be injured,” according to the plea agreement DeGroot signed.