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Published January 11 2013

Moorhead man pleads guilty to Dumpster fires

MOORHEAD – A Moorhead man accused of starting 13 Dumpster fires here last year pleaded guilty to four felony counts of third-degree arson Friday in Clay County District Court.

Under the plea agreement, the other nine arson counts against 38-year-old Steven Edward Chenoweth were dismissed.

Attorneys jointly recommended that Chenoweth serve one year in jail, with eligibility for work release after six months. Because Chenoweth has been in jail since his arrest on Sept. 30, Judge Lisa Borgen said he’ll be allowed to start looking for a job on Feb. 10.

Chenoweth’s sentencing is set for Feb. 20 after a pre-sentence investigation.

In pleading guilty, he admitted to setting fire to Dumpsters in the Romkey Park area on June 25, July 23, Aug. 2 and Aug. 11. He said he started three of the fires with a lighter and the last one with fireworks.

Assistant County Attorney Heidi Davies said each of the 13 fires set between July 23 and Sept. 29 rose to the felony level because the damage to each Dumpster was greater than $300.

As part of the plea agreement, Chenoweth must pay restitution of $2,187.

According to the charges, Chenoweth told investigators he likes fires and watching firefighters respond to them. He was arrested the night of

Sept. 30 after a Moorhead detective staking out the area saw him lean into a Dumpster near the 1000 block of 18th Street South and walk away as smoke started to rise.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528