• Suspected serial arsonists in court Tuesday


    BROCKTON, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) – Two men accused of sparking a string of fires across the area were in court Tuesday for a plea hearing, which was continued to Friday.

    In December 2012, Ralph Pratt saw his brand new commercial fishing boat and his livelihood go up in flames in Marshfield.

    "Thank God the wind was going the way it was because the damage could have been a lot more severe. It had around 75 or $80,000 worth of damage," Pratt said.

    More than a year later, Pratt and his wife Jane faced the man who allegedly set it on fire.

    Mark Sargent, 46, is charged with six-counts of burning personal property, including Pratt's boat. He also is facing charges of burning a building and arson.

    Investigators accuse the 46-year-old of setting fires in Scituate, Marshfield and West Bridgewater.

    Sargent and 24-year-old stepson JeanMarie Louis faced a judge Tuesday in the hopes of a plea deal.

    Louis is charged with one-count of burning a building with Sargent in West Bridgewater last January.

    The Pratts addressed the court, describing the impact the fire had on their family.

    "I still have nightmares about it. Being in the boat with the boat burning," Jane Pratt said.

    Sargent clutched a rosary, sitting alongside Louis in Superior court.

    The state alleges the two are responsible for 30 arson fires, all with the same method: a Duraflame log and gasoline. They have yet to charge father and son with more than three.

    Tuesday's hearing was continued until Friday to allow for more victims to address the court.

    It's unclear if Louis will take the plea offer of two and a half years in the House of Corrections, with one year served and the balance suspended. His stepfather is expected to plead guilty to two to three years in state prison with additional probation.

    "It's been a difficult time in his life, and he is happy he's gonna have an opportunity to move forward," said defense attorney Ed Sharkansky.

    "I am outraged at the plea deal offered today to this father and step-son team of serial arsonists," State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said. "Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz asked for 8 to 12 years in state prison for the older man and 4 to 6 years for the younger. I concur with the district attorney that a fair sentence for these three fires includes significant jail time, not the 1 to 3 years they have been offered by the judge."

    Both Sargent and Louis will be held until Friday's hearing.

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