Hersey man pleads guilty to attempting to set fire to pawn shop

Suspect could face up to 10 years in prison for arson charge



BIG RAPIDS — A parolee will face additional time in jail after admitting he attempted to set fire to a Big Rapids pawn shop.

Jonathan Herman Chambers Jr., 24, of Hersey, appeared before Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy for arraignment and a pretrial hearing in Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court on Jan 27.

In one case, Chambers was charged with single counts of second- and third-degree arson as well as being a second-time habitual offender. In a separate case, he was charged with counts of larceny in a building and false pretenses (less than $200).

The arson charges stem from an incident on July 15, 2019, at which time Chambers allegedly tried to burn down Cash Now Outlet, on Maple Street in Big Rapids, by applying an accelerant to the side of the building and lighting it on fire.

Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede said police and fire personnel were able to respond to the scene quickly and put out the fire before it spread beyond the side door of the building.

“(Chambers) did start a fire, but some people saw it immediately,” Thiede said.

At Monday’s hearing, Chambers admitted his guilt and accepted a plea agreement from the Mecosta County Prosecutor’s Office. Per the agreement, Chambers pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree arson and all remaining counts, including his habitual offender status, were dismissed. Thiede said the agreement included the dismissal of the larceny and false pretenses charges because the stolen property was recovered and the victims were made whole.

Chambers’ third-degree arson charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. However, Hill-Kennedy told the defendant that at sentencing, he would not receive credit for time served because of his parole status. Any sentence Chambers receives must be served consecutively with his current prison sentence.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Tracking Information System, Chambers is on parole for a third-degree home invasion charge out of Mason County, stemming from an incident in 2014.

Chambers is set to appear for sentencing Feb. 24.