Cloyd gets 8 years for church fires

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Three former college students, including Indian Springs resident Matthew Lee Cloyd, were given prison sentences Monday for setting fire to rural churches across West Alabama in February 2006.

Cloyd, 21, and Benjamin Nathan Moseley, 20, were sentenced to eight years and one month in prison and ordered to pay $3.1 million each in restitution for torching nine churches in February of 2006.

Russell Lee DeBusk, Jr., 20, was sentenced to seven years and ordered to pay $1.8 million in fines.

The three men plead guilty back in December to starting fires at five Bibb County churches. Cloyd and Moseley admitted to burning four more churches in Green, Pickens and Sumter counties.

They have been held in the Shelby County jail since March of 2006.

Federal prosecutors said Monday&8217;s sentences should send a clear message to potential copycat arsonists.

&8220;The sentencing should be a warning to anyone who would think about burning a church,&8221; said U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, in a release. &8220;It is a federal crime that results in quick prosecution and tough punishment.&8221;

The men still face state arson charges