Man pleads no contest to arson charge in Thompson Block fire
A man accused of setting fire to the historic Thompson Block building in Ypsilanti's Depot Town in 2009 has pleaded no contest to an arson charge in the case.
Jacob Popiolek, 21, of Ypsilanti, pleaded no contest Tuesday to the charge of arson — preparing to burn property of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller said.
Investigators say Popiolek set fire to the 30,000-square-foot building Sept. 23, 2009, leaving an estimated $113,000 damage to the building and $40,000 damage to its contents. The building at the northeast corner of Cross and River streets was under renovation and boarded up when the fire started at 1:40 a.m., investigators said.
The space is currently being converted into residential units. Ypsilanti officials and developer Stewart Beal have haggled since the fire over the building's renovation and plans to remove scaffolding supporting it.
Popiolek could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.