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Moiliili man pleads guilty to setting series of fires in May 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:47 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2013

A 47-year-old Moiliili man accused of setting a series of fires in May 2011 pleaded guilty in state court Wednesday to seven counts of arson.

Thomas Chong faces a maximum 10-year prison term at sentencing in April. 

He could have faced maximum 20-year prison terms for five of the counts, 10-year terms for two and a one-year for the seventh under his original charges. His plea deal with the prosecutor reduced the five 20-year charges and eliminated the possibility of him getting all of the penalties stacked back-to-back, doubled or extended.

Chong pleaded guilty to setting fire to a car in the parking garage of a Makiki apartment complex on May 10, 2011. The fire damaged two units above and a hedge. 

Police said Chong also tried to light fires to the doorways of two apartments while people were sleeping inside. 

“It was a jealousy thing involving his ex-girlfriend and a couple of guys who were helping her out so she wouldn’t be homeless,” said Michael Green, Chong’s lawyer.

Chong also pleaded guilty to setting more fires at two homes on Tantalus 10 days later. The residents said Chong’s ex-girlfriend was staying there at the time. Home surveillance cameras recorded the arsonist setting the fires which caused minor damage.

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