AUBURN | When James Workman entered the vacant Union Springs home, he knew he was walking into a scrap-metal gold mine.
The Park Street residence's owners were in the midst of renovating the home, leaving the house unoccupied while construction continued. So when Workman walked through the home's front door and stole multiple copper plates, he met no resistance.
But as Workman explained Thursday morning in Cayuga County Court, he wasn't sure he'd get away with the theft. So three days after ransacking the residence, the 24-year-old Union Springs attempted to burn away any evidence.
"I went to cover up what I did on the burglary, so I tried burning the house down," Workman said. "Took a gallon of gas, dumped it all over, lit a rag, threw it down."
And Workman's attempt nearly succeeded.
Although part of the home is still standing, District Attorney Jon Budelmann said it suffered substantial damage.
In exchange for a promised sentence of 2 1/3 to seven years in prison, Workman, of 12 Seminary St., pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and third-degree intentional arson, both felonies.
Workman also agreed to pay restitution for the damage he caused — an undetermined amount that Budelmann expects to tally quite high.
"Based upon the arson, there is substantial restitution," Budelmann said. "And when I say substantial, $80,000."