A Tucson man who admitted he set fire to his neighbor's house to cover up a burglary has been sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison.
On June 6, 2012, Tucson firefighters were extinguishing a house fire in the 7300 block of East Placita de la Intriga when Michael Patrick Shilney, 30, came over from next door.
According to court documents, Shilney remarked that not only were the homeowners - who were living in Canada at the time - victims of a fire, but they'd been burglarized, too.
When detectives interviewed Shilney, he told them he'd broken into the home in mid-April, stolen a TV, golf clubs, iPod, blender, printer and modem, and pawned them, court documents state.
Shilney also admitted he'd set the fire, which caused $100,000 in damage, to destroy evidence of the burglary.
Shilney pleaded guilty to burglary, trafficking in stolen property, arson and criminal damage.
He told a probation officer his wife had left him in March and he committed the burglary to pay bills. He also said he doesn't remember much about the fire because he'd taken Xanax that night.
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Howard Fell of Pima County Superior Court ordered Shilney to pay $1,000 to the Arson Detection Reward Fund and $1,550 to the victim to cover his insurance deductible.
Shilney, his wife and their two children moved to Arizona in 2011 after he was laid off from his job as a sheet-metal worker in Chicago, court documents state. He had no prior criminal record.
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