BRENTWOOD — A Kingston man was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison with 15 to 30 years of parole, and ordered to pay about $99,000 in restitution for crimes related to the January 2018 fire at the Asian Gourmet Restaurant at the Carriage Town Market in Kingston.
John Gates, 45, was convicted of six felonies, including arson, attempted arson, two counts of burglary, in April.
According to court documents, Gates broke into the unoccupied restaurant by chiseling a hole through the wall.
Once inside, he stole $400 in cash, an unknown amount of quarters, and more than 200 scratch tickets, investigators said.
Before he left, Gates threw homemade explosives — known as Molotov cocktails — to set the business on fire.
It took 20 firefighters from local communities to put out the blaze, according to court documents.
Gates was arrested in the arson case after Kingston police said they were able to track his footprints in the snow as he walked from the crime scene to his home, about a half mile away.
Police said they found wet boots at Gates' home, and although he denied that they were his, Gates' DNA and some gasoline were found on them, according to court documents.
Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Haggar acknowledged in court the sentence was a “harsh recommendation.”
“He was a man who was fixated on destruction, on explosions, on warfare, on chemical warfare,” Haggar said.
She added that castor beans — a plant that can be used to make the poison ricin — were found in Gates’ home along with an internet search history showing he had looked up how to make explosives and ricin.
Judge Daniel St. Hilaire said that the court did not understand why such a bright man, who had owned his own computer company for about a year, decided to steal and commit other crimes.
“You have no substance use disorders, no mental health disorders, so why are we here?” asked St. Hilaire.
Gates has previously been convicted at the federal level for identity fraud in 2002.
Haggar described that crime — stealing sensitive information from his previous boss, then obtaining credit cards, setting up fake mailboxes, and then buying products with the stolen credit cards and mailing that to the fake mailboxes.
“This is a man who makes a plan, sticks to the plan and executes the plan,” Haggar said.
Adding she doesn’t want to prosecute someone who potentially has mental illness, she wants Gates to be able to seek treatment.
There is a mental health component to Gates’ sentencing. He has to get an evaluation completed and comply with the recommendations that come from the evaluation.
Gates and his attorneys have 30 days to appeal the sentencing.