WILKES-BARRE – His senseless act affected many people.
Those were the words Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni III directed at Peter Perez-Garcia, 55, after imposing a state prison sentence Wednesday on charges Perez-Garcia intentionally set a fire that forced the evacuation of 10 tenants from an apartment building in Luzerne.
Luzerne police and state police at Wyoming said Perez-Garcia set fire to clothes inside the 15-unit apartment building at 56 Main St. on Jan. 2 because his girlfriend had disappeared for several days.
I'm really sorry what happened, Perez-Garcia said. I'm sorry every day.
Pierantoni sentenced Perez-Garcia to 14 to 36 months in state prison on charges of arson, reckless burning and criminal mischief. He pleaded guilty to the offense on Sept. 28.
Prosecutors withdrew two other arson counts against Perez-Garcia.
Investigators said in arrest papers that Perez-Garcia was living with Jamie Stankunas in the apartment building. Stankunas left and did not return, which upset Perez-Garcia.
Perez-Garcia stayed in the apartment for several days, continuing to drink heavily and becoming heart-broken and upset when Stankunas had not returned, arrest papers say.
He said he smashed a television and ignited Stankunas' T-shirts using a lighter. He dropped the lit T-shirts on other laundry in a closet and left the apartment asking another person for money because he needed to get out of Dodge.
Perez-Garcia boarded a bus in Wilkes-Barre with plans to buy a bus ticket to California.
His lawyer, John Sobota, said Perez-Garcia was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps after serving for three years.
Pierantoni ordered Perez-Garcia to pay restitution of $125,103 to the Westfield Insurance Co., $1,425 to Stankunas and $500 to John Stange, owner of the apartment building. He was given credit for 238 days time served.