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By Cody Shepard
posted Sep 6, 2018 at 11:03 AM
updated Sep 7, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Mark Sargent was sentenced to prison time on Wednesday for a probation violation after he was accused of setting several more fires.
BROCKTON — A convicted serial arsonist who was on probation when he was charged with setting five more fires will now spend at least the next decade in prison.
Mark Sargent, 50, was sentenced in Fall River Superior Court on Wednesday to 10 to 15 years in state prison during a probation surrender hearing, the Bristol County district attorney’s office confirmed to The Enterprise. Judge Thomas McGuire issued the sentence.
The hearing came about when Sargent, who was on probation for setting fires in West Bridgewater, Scituate and Marshfield in 2012 and 2013, was arrested on new charges early last October.
Sargent is currently awaiting trial after he was indicted last December by a Plymouth County grand jury of three counts of burning of a dwelling, four counts of wanton and malicious destruction of property and one count of burning of personal property. He is also awaiting a trial in Fall River Superior Court, charged with setting a fire in Westport.
The Fall River man was indicted related to fires last year at 22 Channel St. in Hull on Sept. 20; 16 Liberty St. in Hanson on Sept. 24; and at 175 East Ashland St. and 1210 Montello St. in Brockton on Oct. 4.
When Sargent was arraigned on the new charges in Brockton District Court, he was held on $250,000 bail. At the time of his Brockton Superior Court arraignment, he was held on $100,000 bail in February.
Sargent was on probation for the fires he set, along with his stepson, in 2012 and 2013 when he was charged in last year’s fires.
In February 2014, Sargent was convicted of setting the three fires. Judge Carol S. Ball sentenced him to two to three years in state prison, followed by three years of probation. Because Sargent was credited for serving time while he was incarcerated and awaiting trial, he was released from prison on Oct. 7, 2015.
Prosecutors say he set the first fire in Hull less than two years later.
Assistant District Attorney Alexander Zane, at the time of Sargent’s superior court arraignment, said that Sargent confessed to setting both Brockton fires as well as the one in Hanson following his arrest.
“During this confession, during this time taking responsibility for these fires, he blames it on stress he’s facing in life,” Zane said. “He says, repeatedly, during the interview with state police, ‘Some people when they’re stressed they drink, some people when they’re stressed get into fights.’ This defendant says that when he gets stressed, he starts fires.”
A search of Sargent’s phone revealed he was searching for any media coverage of fires in the days after them -- at one point searching the houses’ exact addresses, Zane said.
“What the defendant does, when you look at his phone, when you look at the Brockton fires and Hanson fire he took responsibility for ... the next morning he wakes up, he’s Googling or searching for his work, the buildings he set on fire,” Zane said.
The prosecutor said six months worth of web searches revealed about 80 percent are for fires and pornography.
“The defendant is Googling things or searching for things like, ‘How to be an arsonist, tips to becoming an arsonist, why do arsonists get caught, the top most famous arsonists,’ looking at vintage fires,” Zane said.
Sargent is still awaiting trial in Brockton Superior Court on the new indictments. He is due back in court next Tuesday, on Sept. 11, for a status hearing.