A Flatlands arsonist will spend five years behind bars for setting a massive blaze that engulfed the parking garage of Kings Plaza Shopping Center last year.
Federal Judge I. Leo Glasser slapped 23-year-old Evon Stephens with the lengthy sentence on Sept. 25 for igniting the inferno that injured 25 people and damaged over 135 vehicles in the garage on Avenue U in Mill Basin, according to prosecutors.
Surveillance video captured Stephens entering the parking lot in the early morning hours of Sept. 17 of last year, before breaking into a Mercedes Benz and setting fire to the car’s interior, according to prosecutors.
The blaze soon spread through the massive parking structure, leading to a three hour firefight.
“This crime senselessly endangered the lives of FDNY members and the public, and caused tremendous property damage,” said Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “I commend our Fire Marshals…for their outstanding investigative work that led to the apprehension and sentencing of this dangerous arsonist.”
Police arrested Stephens several hours after the fire began — when he reportedly told investigators that he had set the blaze because he believed that people used the vacant vehicles for “sexual activity.”
In the months following the incident, authorities discovered that Kings Plaza had been using the garage to illegally store unsold cars on behalf of car dealerships, which lead prosecutors to slap the shopping mall with a measly $1,250 fine.
Stephens pled guilty in federal court last May to felony charges of using fire to damage property.
The arsonist will also be responsible for coughing up monetary restitution, although the exact amount will be determined by a federal judge at a later date, according to prosecutors.