Man: 'I lit the wicks' in autism center arson — (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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The man who in April set fire to an autism sports center for children pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday afternoon.   Samuel Powers, 24, a then-employee the Lovaas Center for Behavioral Intervention, another center that focuses on special needs individuals, pleaded guilty to one count of arson and one count of possession of an unregistered firearm.

The binding plea agreement stipulates 10 years imprisonment and five years of supervised release, as well as a undetermined amount of restitution. He also waived the right to appeal as part of the plea agreement.

Powers admitted to going to Sport-Social, near Warm Springs Road and Las Vegas Boulevard, on April 15 armed with gasoline and Molotov cocktails and setting fire to the establishment.

“I lit the wicks and I also lit the gasoline,” Powers told the judge. “It was intentional.”

The ensuing fires caused $50,000 in damage, and shut down the building for a week.   Witnesses saw Powers leaving the building pushing his vehicle. He was also seen with a red five-gallon gasoline container.

“It was only after the fire was set that I realized there were people in other parts of the building,” Powers said. “I was pushing my car because my keys were lost inside the facility.”

The maximum prison sentences he faced were 20 years for arson and 10 years for the unregistered firearms charge.

Prior to sentencing, Powers will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He admitted to taking Prozac for the past year.  His attorney, William Terry, said he was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the incident.

A sentencing date has been set for November 1 at 10:30 p.m.

Contact Rochel Leah Goldblatt at or 702-383-0381