GREENWOOD, SC (WSPA) – A man was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to arson and malicious injury charges after he started a fire at an area Walmart last year.
According to a solicitor’s office news release, Russell William Geddings, 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree arson and malicious injury to personal property charges.
Geddings was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the arson charge and 10 years in prison on the malicious injury to personal property charge, suspended to five years of probation.
According to the release, the sentences will run consecutively.
On Dec. 5, 2018, Geddings went to Walmart, located at 508 Bypass 72 NW and set a clothing rack in the men’s section of the store on fire before running from the scene.
Investigators were told by a witness that she saw Geddings at the Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works building and he was later taken into custody.
According to the release, Geddings told investigators that he set the fire as a diversion tactic so he could steal a case of beer from the store.
Walmart officials said the fire caused approximately $1.2 million in damage to merchandise in the store.
“It is shocking to me that this man would put innocent lives at risk and destroy property just so he could steal a few beers,” Solicitor David Stumbo said after the sentencing. “I am satisfied knowing that he will not be able to victimize the people of this community in such a manner for many years to come.”