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Cedar Rapids man faces arson, public intoxication charges

Man has extensive criminal history in the state

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Less than 12 hours before he was scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on a prior arson charge, a Cedar Rapids man was arrested for starting a shed on fire.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said firefighters responded to a fire shortly after midnight in the 300 block of 30th Street Drive SE. Responding units encountered a shed, fence and trees on fire.

Police said 52-year-old Richard D. Alatalo, who lives in the 200 block of 30th Street Drive SE, was seen running from the area and found by officers. According to a criminal complaint, Alatalo — who was found with a lighter — admitting to starting the fire because he was angry with the shed’s owner.

Alatalo was arrested on charges of second-degree arson and public intoxication.

Alatalo has an extensive criminal history in Iowa, including an October 2015 arrest for second-degree arson and third-degree burglary. Alatalo was scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on the prior arson case Tuesday morning. However, that hearing was canceled.

Second-degree arson is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey contributed to this report.

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