FARGO — A 26-year-old man was sentenced to three years behind bars for allegedly causing a fire that killed three pets at his mother’s home last fall in north Fargo.

Tate Anthony Smith-Nerlien of Fargo entered an Alford plea on Monday, Aug. 10, in Cass County District Court to felony charges of endangering by fire or explosion and reckless endangerment. Each count carried a maximum punishment of five years in prison, but Judge Stephannie Stiel gave Smith-Nerlien three years in prison. He had 285 days credit for time served.

The charges stem from an Oct. 29 fire at 1007 Eighth Ave. N., where police said Smith-Nerlien used to live with his mother. His mother and two other people were in the house when the flames erupted and caused heavy damage, according to police.

An Alford plea means Smith-Nerlien maintains his innocence but admits there is enough evidence to convict him.

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