Pa. arson suspect pleads guilty to setting diner ablaze during rash of fires in Coatesville

A man who authorities say tried to pass himself off as a firefighter has pleaded guilty to intentionally setting a fire at a diner during a string of blazes in an arson-plagued Philadelphia suburb.

Twenty-one-year-old Mark Gilliam of West Bradford was sentenced Wednesday to 33 to 66 months in state prison for trying to set a fire in the bathroom of the Happy Days diner in Thorndale in January 2009.

Gilliam was among seven suspects charged in connection with fires in Coatesville and nearby communities that began in February 2008.

Authorities say he purchased firefighting equipment and put strobe lights on his car despite being denied membership in his local fire company.

Gilliam's guilty plea resolves state and federal charges against him. After credit for time served, he will be eligible for parole in 16 months.