News and Press Releases

GUILTY PLEA IN $2 MILLION PORT LUDLOW ARSON
Port Hadlock Man Admits he Set Fire Because of Jealousy over Girlfriend

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2008

KEVIN LEE GRAESSER, 32, of Port Hadlock, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Arson of the Admiralty One Condominiums in Port Ludlow, Washington. The fire on December 2, 2004, destroyed building 12 in the complex and damaged buildings 11 and 13. The loss was totaled well over $2 million. Under the terms of the plea agreement, GRAESSER must be sentenced to 11 to 13 and a half years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton on January 15, 2010.

According to the plea agreement signed today, GRAESSER admits that he went to the condominium project to seek revenge because he thought a man living at the condos was romantically involved with his girlfriend. GRAESSER drove to the Port Ludlow condominiums around 4:00 AM. He recognized the car his intended victim sometimes drove parked in the carport for building 12. The car and the condominium actually belonged to the grandmother of the intended victim. A fire that an ATF expert determined started in the passenger compartment of the grandmother’s car quickly spread to the roof of the carport and then rapidly to the rest of building 12. A resident of building 12 heard a car horn and went to investigate, saw the flames, and was able to alert the other residents of building 12 to get them out of the building. The man GRAESSER was targeting was not even at the condos that night. Building 12, which burned to the ground in less than an hour, was totally destroyed. Building 13 was heavily damaged and on the other side of 12, building 11 was scorched.

In the plea agreement GRAESSER admits that after the fire he told other people he had “flipped out” and “burned the guy’s condo down” in “Ludlow” because his girlfriend was cheating on him, and that he “kind of evicted” the man who was the object of his scorn.

GRAESSER was arrested in Alaska on March 7, 2007. GRAESSER was indicted by the grand jury on April 12, 2007. Trial of the case was to begin later this month.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory A. Gruber and Kurt Hermanns.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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