Vinita Veterinarian Sentenced for Failing to Report Arson
(STL.News)A Vinita veterinarian was sentenced in federal court for failing to report an arson and will pay more than $300,000 in restitution to the victims of the crime, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
On Oct. 2, 2016, John Marcotte, 57, accompanied a friend, Thomas Craig Shelton, 40, who set fire to the Yazel Land & Cattle Company building in Vinita. On April 1, 2021, Marcotte pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, admitting that he knowingly concealed the arson and failed to report the crime to law enforcement.
In his plea agreement, Marcotte stated he was with Shelton, who set the company building on fire. He further stated that in May 2020, Shelton told him that he (Shelton) was under federal investigation concerning the fire and that the two discussed details of the arson and finding legal representation. Marcotte admitted that he failed to contact authorities as soon as possible at the time of the crime and after learning about the federal investigation in 2020. Finally, Marcotte stated that when he learned of the investigation, he tried to conceal the crime by attempting to coordinate details with Shelton about events leading up to the setting of the fire.
Chief U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III sentenced Marcotte to three years of probation. He further ordered the defendant to pay $311,220.43 in restitution to the victims and a fine of $5,000. Judge Heil found that restitution was mandatory, stating that Marcotte pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and that his failure to report the arson resulted in the victims’ losses. The restitution will be paid by both defendants in the case.
Co-defendant Shelton pleaded guilty on April 22, 2021. In his plea agreement, Shelton admitted that on Oct. 2, 2016, he conspired with John Marcotte to set the Yazel Land & Cattle Company building on fire. Shelton further stated that he and Marcotte retrieved an accelerant, drove together to the building and used the accelerant to start the fire. Shelton stated he knew his actions were wrong and expressed feeling terrible about committing the crime. Shelton will be sentenced on Aug. 31, 2021.
The FBI and the Craig County District Attorney’s Office (District 12) conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert T. Raley and David D. Whipple are prosecuting the case.