Arson plotter gets five years

Mail Tribune

MEDFORD — A bouncer from a rival nightclub was sentenced to five years in federal prison for trying to set a fire at Ground Zero in 2007.

Martin Joseph Angeleas Jr., 25, of Medford, was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson after a four-day jury trial in April. Judge Owen M. Panner handed down the sentence Monday in federal court in Medford

Two co-conspirators, Christopher Lee Gilbert and Joseph Faaeteete, are still awaiting sentencing, the Department of Justice said in a release Monday.

Medford police determined that the three had schemed to burn down Ground Zero, 123 S. Front St., early in the morning of March 6, 2007.

Investigators said the trio had stolen three 5-gallon cans they thought contained diesel from the back of a parked pickup truck downtown and planned to toss flammable liquid onto the club's roof. The cans actually contained hydraulic fluid.

Faaeteete brought the combustible liquid to a downtown alley and arranged a get-away plan, a federal indictment said. Angeleas checked the area around Ground Zero for police, cameras or other security measures.

The federal indictment said that Angeleas and Gilbert found two liquor bottles in a garbage bin and made Molotov cocktails by filling them with fuel and stuffing a strip of cloth in the bottle's necks to serve as a wick.

A private security guard spotted Gilbert crouched behind a garbage bin with two Molotov cocktails and a 5-gallon fuel can at about 3:20 a.m. March 6. He was arrested and investigators found the additional fuel cans at daylight.

Surveillance video showed Angeleas circling the area, then fleeing when the security patrol car arrived. Angeleas, who was employed at the time as a bouncer for Highwaters, a short-lived downtown club, and Faaeteete turned themselves in later in the week after the plot was foiled.

The federal indictment was filed in April 2007.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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