Auburn teen admits to setting Perrine Street fire

An Auburn teen pleaded guilty Tuesday for setting a fire that destroyed an abandoned building in the spring.

Michael Couturier, 16, admitted to Cayuga County Court Judge Mark Fandrich that on April 21, he entered a vacant structure located at 23 Perrine St. and lit a fire. The building, once home to Auburn Container, was so badly damaged that the city of Auburn had to issue an emergency demolition order and tear the structure down shortly after the fire.

“I went into the building and started a fire,” Couturier said. “It got out of control. I didn’t really mean to burn the building.”

Couturier and another unnamed teen were arrested shortly after the fire was set and Couturier was charged with fourth-degree arson and trespassing. He has been held in the Cayuga County Jail since his arrest in April.

In exchange for Couturier pleading guilty to fourth-degree arson, a class D felony, Fandrich promised to sentence the teen to a term of shock probation, followed by five years of probation with credit for time served, meaning that after he is sentenced on Dec. 18, he will be released to the custody of a parent or guardian.

Couturier’s defense attorney, Joseph Sapio, said the teen’s mother’s home is not an appropriate environment for him to be living in. Sapio indicated that Couturier only began to get into trouble once he moved in with his mother after his father went to prison. The teen’s father is now out of prison and on parole, Sapio said, and it would be best for Couturier to go live with his father.

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