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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Kansas

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2011

Barry Grissom, United States Attorney

Contact: Jim Cross, Public Affairs
(316) 269-6481

Former Employee Sentenced For Lumber Company Arson In Manhattan

TOPEKA, KAN. – A former employee has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for starting a fire at a lumber company in Manhattan, Kan., U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. The judge also ordered the man to pay more than $600,000 in restitution.

William Joseph Willox, 23, Manhattan, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of arson. Willox started a fire April 24, 2009, that destroyed two warehouses at Griffith Lumber Company, 820 Levee Drive in Manhattan.

At sentencing, prosecutors said Willox was an employee of Griffith Lumber Company. On the day of the fire, he returned insulation to the second floor of a warehouse and remained there to look at a magazine. He decided to light the magazine on fire, discarded it near stacked insulation and walked away. Within 10 minutes, the warehouse was engulfed in flames. The fire, driven by winds up to 40 miles an hour, quickly spread to a second warehouse.

Grissom commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Warner and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag for their work on the case.