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Poncho’s arsonist gets six years in prison

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Joseph Gora was sentenced to six years in prison. (File photo)

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A 27-year-old New Baltimore man was sentenced to more than six years in prison related to starting a fire that severely damaged a Mexican restaurant in his hometown.

Joseph M. Gora III was sentenced to 76 months to 20 years in prison Wednesday by Judge Edward Servitto of Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

Gora was accused of burning the Poncho’s Mexican Restaurant to cover up potential DNA evidence that he may have left behind during a burglary.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 7 to burglary, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and two misdemeanors – third-degree arson and receiving and concealing property worth between $200 and $1,000. Due to a criminal record for breaking and entering, assault and home invasion, Gora also pleaded to fourth habitual criminal status, which doubled his maximum penalty.

His co-defendant, Brian Kanikowski, is charged with burglary, being an accessory after the fact and receiving and concealing property between $200 and $1,000. He faces a Nov. 18 pretrial in front of Servitto.

According to New Baltimore police, Gora broke in and stole two cash registers and a fax machine, while Kanikowski waited outside. Gora cut his finger and left blood inside, so he returned and set the structure on fire. Gora allegedly paid Kanikowski $45 to keep quiet about the incident, police said.

Poncho’s, located 37029 Green St., remains closed; but its web site says to “check back for future updates.” Yelp.com says it will reopen Jan. 1.

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For The Voice

A 27-year-old New Baltimore man was sentenced to more than six years in prison related to starting a fire that severely damaged a Mexican restaurant in his hometown.

Joseph M. Gora III was sentenced to 76 months to 20 years in prison Wednesday by Judge Edward Servitto of Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

Gora was accused of burning the Poncho’s Mexican Restaurant to cover up potential DNA evidence that he may have left behind during a burglary.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 7 to burglary, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and two misdemeanors – third-degree arson and receiving and concealing property worth between $200 and $1,000. Due to a criminal record for breaking and entering, assault and home invasion, Gora also pleaded to fourth habitual criminal status, which doubled his maximum penalty.

His co-defendant, Brian Kanikowski, is charged with burglary, being an accessory after the fact and receiving and concealing property between $200 and $1,000. He faces a Nov. 18 pretrial in front of Servitto.

According to New Baltimore police, Gora broke in and stole two cash registers and a fax machine, while Kanikowski waited outside. Gora cut his finger and left blood inside, so he returned and set the structure on fire. Gora allegedly paid Kanikowski $45 to keep quiet about the incident, police said.

Poncho’s, located 37029 Green St., remains closed; but its web site says to “check back for future updates.” Yelp.com says it will reopen Jan. 1.

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Mystic Maggie

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