An Egg Harbor Township man has been sentenced to seven years in state prison after pleading guilty to aggravated arson and a weapon charge in connection to two incidents in Ocean County in 2020.

27-year-old Jamal Preston was sentenced on Friday and must serve at least 85-percent of his term before becoming eligible for parole.

Preston received seven years for aggravated arson by purposely or knowingly placing another in danger of death or bodily injury, seven years for aggravated arson with purpose to destroy the building or structure of another, and 18 months for an unrelated charge of unlawful possession of a weapon. A sentences will run concurrently.

On the night of August 22, 2020, Lakewood Township police officers responded to a report of a fire at a home. An investigation determined that the fire had been intentionally set utilizing an ignitable liquid. Further investigation, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, determined that Preston intentionally set the fire while the home was occupied by three people.

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Preston fled the scene but was arrested at a motel in Absecon by the U.S. Marshals Service on August 31st, 2020.

Two days prior to the fire,

"Preston was involved in an altercation with another individual in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township. When Officers from the Berkeley Township Police Department responded to the scene, Preston was found to be in possession of a knife. He was taken into custody, charged on a summons, and released pending a future court date."

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