Portsmouth firefighter pleads guilty to arson charge

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Mark Stuck, a Portsmouth firefighter charged with arson, plead guilty to one charge of arson on Tuesday.

In court on August 8, a judge ruled to give Stuck a $2,500 bond for the five charges he faced.

Stuck was arrested on August 3. Chesapeake Police say he was caught on camera setting a dumpster on fire behind a Food Lion on Moses Grandy Trail on July 31. They believe he is responsible for four other dumpster fires behind the grocery store. According to Stuck's arrest warrant, the fires occurred March 29, April 3, May 3 and June 5.

Stuck was in Chesapeake Circuit Court on Tuesday, where all charges except one were nolle prossed. He plead guilty to one count of arson charge. Sentencing is set for January of 2020.

According to the Commonwealth Attorney's office, the business installed surveillance cameras after the June 5 fire. They say on July 31, Stuck was caught lighting the dumpster on fire. The Commonwealth Attorney's Office claims Stuck was brought in for questioning where he admitted to the fires, but according to Stuck's attorney, there are problems with the statement.

"People have rights and they don't have to make statements and he didn't get those in this case, I don't believe," said Stanley Sacks, Stuck's attorney.

During his bond hearing, Sacks called several people to testify to Stuck's character. His wife and several of his Portsmouth Fire Department colleagues all made statements to the judge about Stuck's dedication to his family and community. More than two dozen supporters also filled the courtroom.

"I'm very surprised, very surprised. This is not his characteristic at all," said Robin Wynn, longtime friend of the Stuck's family. "There is a lot of support here and even people that couldn't be here all wrote letters."

Stuck has been with the Portsmouth Fire Department for 30 years. He is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

While he was granted bond, a judge ruled that he must have home monitoring. He is only allowed to leave his home for work at a landscaping business and for arranged trips to his lawyer's office. His next court date is scheduled for October 5.

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