DULUTH — Given the choice between treatment and a cage, Matthew Amiot chose a cage.
On Friday the homeless man who started the fire that burned Duluth’s Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in September asked to serve his year-and-a-day prison sentence after fleeing the treatment program he was ordered to complete.
In October Amiot was sentenced to four years of probation and would stay out of prison if he followed the terms of his release, including high-intensity residential treatment. Last week he fled the facility hours after he arrived, he admitted Friday.
Judge Shaun Floerke reminded Amiot what he told him at sentencing: That treatment would be harder than prison, and that if he messed up on supervised probation, “we have a cage.”
Though another shot at probation was possible, Amiot calmly stated, “I would like to execute (my sentence).”
He will be given credit for 56 days served.
Amiot, 36, pleaded guilty to felony and a misdemeanor charges of causing negligent fires in the fire that destroyed the nearly 120-year-old Adas Israel Congregation downtown. He started a pile of clothes on fire to stay warm in the early hours of Sept. 9 outside the synagogue, and when the flames grew out of control he walked away.
Authorities said they did not believe it was a hate crime.
The fire claimed many irreplaceable artifacts and caused $1.4 million in damage. A firefighter was injured while battling the blaze.