Ex-firefighter enters plea in Carlos Avery fire

12:57 PM, Jan 20, 2011   |    comments
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ANOKA, Minn. -- A former Forest Lake volunteer firefighter faces sentencing in March for a 2009 fire that burned about 1,500 acres in and around the Carlos Avery Wildlife Refuge.

His attorney says John David Berken entered an Alford plea. That means a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence to convict.

Prosecutors say Berken will be sentenced to up to 120 days in jail and be on probation for up to three years. He also will have to pay restitution for the cost of putting out the fire.

The complaint says witnesses saw a man appearing to set the fire by shooting fireworks out of his passenger window into a ditch.

Berken was arrested while fighting the fire. His attorney, Marsh Halberg, tells WCCO-TV that Berken still adamantly denies that he set the fire.

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Information from: WCCO-TV, http://www.wcco.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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