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EX-CONVICT GETS 2-4 YEARS IN FIRE AT HALFWAY HOUSE

A Buffalo ex-convict who caused the evacuation of 15 inmates and staff members after deliberatedly setting fire to his bed at a halfway house was sent back to prison Tuesday for an additional two to four years.

Shawn Hastings, 34, was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang in the April 20, 2003, fire on the third floor of the Hotel Lafayette, which is used by the state prison system as a halfway house for recently released local prisoners.

Hastings has been jailed since his arrest about 24 hours after the early evening fire, which filled the third floor with heavy smoke and caused about $500 damage. He was convicted in a nonjury trial two months ago.

Buffalo Fire Investigators Garnell Smith and Kenneth Skinner said the fire started on top of box springs after Hastings removed the mattress from his bed.

Michael McCabe, chief of the Arson Bureau in the Erie County district attorney's office, said Hastings spent several years in state prison on a sodomy conviction in Olean in 1996 and a subsequent parole violation connected with that case. He had been released from the state's Wende Correctional Facility in Alden five days before the fire at the halfway house.

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