A Grapevine man who admitted to setting a February fire that destroyed more than half the donations at GRACE, a faith-based community organization in Grapevine, has been sentenced to five years of probation.
But Zacharia Benali, 22, was in the Tarrant County Jail on Monday because of three new drug charges filed against him, according to Tarrant County criminal court records.
Benali was sentenced on Friday in Criminal District Court No. 372 on the charge of arson for the Feb. 12 blaze at the Grapevine donation station, 112 N. Scribner St.
He also was sentenced on Friday to five years of probation for a 2014 drug charge and two years of probation for a deadly conduct incident last year. The sentences will be served concurrently.
Never miss a local story.
A day after the blaze, Benali handed police a lighter that he used to start the blaze inside one of the portable buildings that burned down at the donation station, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram in February.
Benali was arrested several hours after the fire.
The fire was reported shortly before 9 p.m. on Feb. 12 and burned GRACE’s portable buildings, a shipping storage container and bins filled with donations. GRACE is a nonprofit relief agency that provides food, clothing, medical care, financial assistance, housing and other vital items to those in need.
Surveillance video at GRACE showed two people entering the fenced complex during a burglary. After awhile, a fire started in a portable building. Firefighters knocked down the flames in just over 10 minutes and no injuries were reported.
Just hours after the fire, a patrol officer observed two people in the area wearing clothes that matched the ones worn by the suspects in the surveillance video, according to the affidavit. Property taken from GRACE also was found near the suspects. At first, Benali denied setting the fire, but his cohort identified Benali as the arsonist, the affidavit stated.
The two were not taken into custody then, but Benali later went to the Grapevine police station and admitted setting the fire, according to the affidavit.
The GRACE facility was closed for several days for repairs.
Benali’s accomplice, Jose Orozco, 28, of Grapevine, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $217 in March for his involvement.
In April, Benali, who was out on bail, was stopped by Grapevine police who found what they believe was methamphetamine and prescription drugs in his vehicle, Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said Monday. Once in in the booking area, officers found a prescription drug on Benali, Eberling said.
Benali was charged on Monday with two counts of possession of a controlled substance and prohibited substance in a correctional facility in connection with the April incident, according to Tarrant County criminal court records.