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CHEEKTOWAGA WOMAN PLEADS TO ARSON COUNT

A Cheektowaga woman Monday pleaded guilty to a reduced felony arson charge for attempting to burn down her parent's Caprice Drive home last month.

Cheryl Smith, 23, accepted a pre-indictment plea deal, admitting to acting State Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. McCarthy that she used gasoline to set fires in her parents' living room and outside their bedroom late on Aug. 22.

Though McCarthy did not make a sentencing commitment, he noted that Ms. Smith has a history of "mental problems" and set the fires "during a period of depression."

Ms. Smith Will be sentenced Oct. 22.

The judge told defense attorney Anthony J. Lana to attempt to find some local non-jail facility where Ms. Smith, who has no prior criminal history, could be placed for the next month.

Arson Prosecutor Rosanne E. Johnson told the judge the gasoline-fed fires Ms. Smith started before she woke up her parents and ran to a neighbor's house to make a 911 call about the fires caused "minimal" damage, including scorched carpeting and burn marks on the floors.

Mrs. Johnson told the judge the district attorney's office agreed to spare Ms. Smith a likely indictment on a stiffer arson charge that could carry a possible 25-year prison term and let her plead to the nonviolent arson felony.

Though McCarthy can order Ms. Smith to serve a prison term of one and one-third to four years, he also can place her on probation and order her to continue getting mental treatment under the plea, according to court officials.

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