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Published: Friday, January 21, 2011, 5:10 p.m.

Teen pleads guilty in Emory’s arson

EVERETT — Emory Cole got what he wanted Friday: a teenager’s admission and apology in open court.
It couldn’t begin to make up for the financial loss and emotional toll he’s endured since a 2009 fire destroyed his popular restaurant on the shore of Everett’s Silver Lake.
Ryan Frye, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree arson Friday.
The defendant told Cole he had nothing against him or his restaurant.
“I was taking a walk and I was mad that night,” Frye said.
The defendant said he lit napkins on the deck of the restaurant and that caused the fire.
The blaze caused about $2 million in damage and put dozens of people out of work. The lakeside eatery was rebuilt and reopened in November.
As a juvenile offender, Frye faced a standard sentencing range of up to 30 days detention. While waiting for resolution of his case, he already served more than 200 days at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett.
He also must get in-patient treatment for drug addiction.
Under questioning from Judge Bruce Weiss, Frye said he was abusing the prescription pain killer OxyContin, daily at the time of the arson.
Frye acknowledged he hurt many people by his actions, including the Coles, their employees and his own family.
In court, Cole told the defendant: “You destroyed a building. You destroyed a business I had put 20 years of my life into. You put 50 people out of work whose families depended on the income.”
Deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen said the plea agreement was made in part because of issues with evidence “as well as what could change this young man’s path.” The plea agreement also included a requirement that Frye explain and apologize for what he did.
Public defender Fred Moll told the judge that Frye is bright young man with a supportive family.
Cole said it has been a trying ordeal since the fire. Particularly difficult is the nearly $500,000 in costs not covered by insurance as well as hurtful speculation in media forums that he was somehow responsible.
Friday’s hearing proved eye opening in other ways for Cole.
“It’s difficult to come to this juvenile court and see how many kids are influenced by the drug culture,” he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com
Story tags » EverettCrimePoliceArson

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