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updated: 5/13/2014 5:57 PM

4 years probation, community service for Elgin arson

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A 47-year-old man was sentenced to four years of probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to a spring 2013 arson at an Elgin engineering company that caused nearly $47,000 damage.

Kane County Judge Karen Simpson said arson is a serious crime, but she balanced that with the fact no one was injured and Mark A. Clough, formerly of South Elgin, was battling alcoholism, a severe head injury, depression and was stressed out from returning to his maintenance position at Advanced Engineering, 440 S. McClean Blvd.

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"It's such a scary offense because of what can happen if a fire gets out of control," Simpson said. "The court believes the defendant is likely to comply with a period of probation. He has accepted responsibility for this offense. It certainly sounds like this offense was out of character."

If Clough violates probation, he could be resentenced to up to seven years in prison.

He also must complete 100 hours of community service, and follow any recommendations from a psychological exam.

Clough was arrested in early May 2013 after the fire April 28, 2013.

No one was injured, but the blaze caused $46,854 in damage to a specialized pipe.

He had been held at the Kane County jail for more than a year.

Assistant State's Attorney Alex Bederka argued for a three-year prison term, saying Clough was wanted on a 2005 warrant out of Massachusetts on charges he sexually assaulted one of his two children.

But Assistant Public Defender Jillian Weiss argued Clough moved from Massachusetts to Illinois in 2003 and was unaware of the allegations, which stemmed from 1996.

Weiss said Clough worked for the engineering firm for 10 years, but suffered a fractured skull in a December 2012 that altered his mood and resulted in memory loss. He returned to work the following spring, but was stressed from a 40-hour workweek and was battling depression.

"This was the perfect storm of bad circumstances. He just couldn't handle the pressure, all these things adding up," Weiss said. "That doesn't excuse was happened here, but (the fall) changed Mr. Clough in a major way."

Clough also apologized for his actions -- even though he said he didn't remember setting the fire. "I am remorseful and I am sorry for what I did," he said. "Work was trying to force me out."

Following Clough's release from the Kane County jail Tuesday he was to be extradited to Massachusetts.

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