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Petoskey man charged with arson for Boyne Highlands fire

Boyne Highlands Resort

A man has been charged with second degree arson today in connection with the Boyne Highlands Resort fire in December. The fire injured a dozen people and damaged around 70 rooms.

The defendant, David Soltysiak, from Petoskey, was at the resort on December 11th for an office Christmas party, says Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin.  Soltysiak booked a room to stay the night.

Wallin says Soltysiak was always a suspect because of his actions that night.

"The fire had already started," says Wallin, "and when he was approached by the security officer he sprayed him in the face with the fire extinguisher." 

Wallin says law enforcement traced the start of the fire to Soltysiak’s room. He says Soltysiak was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Today, Soltysiak plead no contest to second degree arson with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. He was also charged with one count of felonious assault for his actions against the security officer. That charge has a maximum penalty of four years. In exchange, the Emmet County Prosecutor agreed not to file a first degree arson charge with a maximum penalty of  life in prison.

In a press release, Emmet County Prosecutor James Linderman says the plea agreement saves taxpayers' money and recognizes the defendant's willingness to quickly accept responsibility.

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.