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Man gets 13 years in state prison for 2019 arson of Sage North Motel in Farmington

Two prior felony convictions added four years to sentence

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Ray Montano, 49, was sentenced on April 20 in Aztec District Court to the New Mexico Department of Corrections for nine years on a second-degree felony conviction and four years for having two prior felony convictions,
  • He pleaded guilty to the arson charge as part of a plea agreement signed on April 6, according to court documents.
  • The charges dismissed against Montano were for a June 22 structure fire at 709 Orchard Homes Dr. and a July 5 fire at 621 W. Animas St.

FARMINGTON — A Farmington man will serve 13 years in state prison after being convicted of setting fire to the Sage North Motel in July 2019 after charges in two separate fires were dismissed.

No new information is available in three other fires Ray Montano was being investigated for during a three-week period in June and July 2019.

Montano, 49, was sentenced on April 20 in Aztec District Court to the New Mexico Department of Corrections for nine years on a second-degree felony conviction and four years for having two prior felony convictions, according to court records and San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.

He pleaded guilty to the arson charge as part of a plea agreement signed on April 6, according to court documents.

Greg Shearer, Montano's attorney, did not respond to request for comment.

O'Brien said the District Attorney's Office was pleased with Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend's sentence.

"Although he targeted abandoned structures, people sometime stay in those structures and it's incredibly dangerous," O'Brien said. "Not only for occupants but fire departments and putting the general public in danger."

Ray Montano

Montano was convicted of setting fire to the Sage North Motel at 301 Airport Drive in Farmington, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Two fires were recorded on July 5 and July 7 of 2019.The property was listed as being worth about $60,000.

The July 5 fire was around 11:34 p.m. and was determined to have started in room #104.

The affidavit states fingerprints were collected from the metal roof as evidence along with a paint can containing a piece of insulation that appeared to be saturated with gasoline.

Farmington fire and police were dispatched around 10:49 p.m. on July 7 to the motel for another fire, which was started in the laundry room.

It was video footage from an officer's body camera and from a daycare near the scene which helped identified Montano as the suspect.

"The judge giving him the max sentence will keep him off the streets for some time," O'Brien said.

The charges dismissed against Montano were for a June 22 structure fire at 709 Orchard Homes Dr. and a July 5 fire at 621 W. Animas St., which destroyed an abandoned residence and camper trailer.

A July 10 Farmington Police Department press release stated Montano was arrested in connection to six structure fires between June 22 and July 7 in various abandoned buildings in the city.

It also stated three fires not included in Montano's charges were under investigation.

Farmington Police Department Spokesperson Nicole Brown did not respond to questions sent by The Daily Times regarding the three fires Montano was not charged with.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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