Former Bellevue resident pleads guilty to arson in New Year's Day nightclub fire

A former Bellevue resident pleaded guilty to arson Friday in connection to a Seattle nightclub fire just after midnight on Jan. 1.

Prosecutors will recommend the mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment for 30-year-old Musab Mohammed Masmari under the plea deal, though U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez could still potentially sentence him to the 20-year maximum.

On New Year's Eve, Masmari carried a one-gallon tank of gas into Neighbours nightclub in First Hill, concealing it in a shopping bag according to the facts admitted in the plea agreement. After midnight, he poured some of the gasoline on a staircase and hid the container behind a planter at the top of the stairs. He then lit the gas and left the club.

Masmari was identified from surveillance video of the incident. He was arrested by the Seattle Police Department and FBI on Feb. 1, and was incarcerated in King County until being transferred into federal custody Friday.

Masmari was originally charged in King County Superior Court, but was charged federally in the Western District of Washington Thursday.

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