Crime, Olympia

Man charged with arson for allegedly burning ID card at city jail

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Authorities charged a man with a class A felony after they say he lit an ID badge on fire in the Olympia city jail.

The man, identified as 22-year-old Michael B. Farley, was charged with first-degree attempted arson. He’s being held in the Thurston County Jail on $10,000 bail.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Farley went to the city jail in downtown Olympia at around 8:40 a.m. Sunday. As he stood in the jail lobby, he told an officer that he needed to pick up medication taken from him after he was booked and released on a separate matter. The medication was still at the jail, he said.

The officer asked Farley to identify himself, and Farley slipped a plastic California ID card through a crack in the lobby double doors. The officer looked at the ID card, slipped it back through the door to Farley, then went into the jail to look for the medication.

Shortly after, police say a smoke alarm went off in the lobby area. An officer went to the lobby, opened the double doors, and saw the ID card, now charred, drop to the floor. Farley was gone, according to court documents.

Surveillance footage of the lobby during the incident reportedly showed Farley reach a hand up to the ID card, as it was stuck in the door, and walk away. Immediately after, black smoke started to billow through the doors, according to court documents. The smoke didn’t last long, and didn’t seriously damage anything other than the card.

“I checked the lobby doors and observed black smoke residue on the inside and outside of the doors where the ID card had been. The weatherstripping on the inside of the doors was also charred,” read court documents.

Officers searched the area for Farley, and found him still in downtown Olympia later that morning. According to court documents, Farley said he would have to see surveillance footage for himself and that “he didn’t know if he remembered setting fire to the ID card.”

First-degree arson is a class A felony in Washington, the most serious felony classification in the state. The maximum penalty for a class A felony is life in prison. 

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