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Cleared of Arson Allegations, Stephen Petersen Pleads Guilty to Possession of Obscene Matter

The site of the September 2014 Park Street fire has been razed in recent weeks. (Action Alameda News)

The site of the September 2014 Park Street fire has been razed in recent weeks. (Action Alameda News)

Once accused, but then cleared, of starting a number of fires in and around Park Street in September, 2014, Stephen Petersen has pleaded guilty to possession of obscene matter, law enforcement sources say.

The plea deal was wrapped-up yesterday.

Petersen was arrested and accused of arson related to a series of fires that rocked Alameda in late September, 2014.

He was supported by his girlfriend, friends and family who went to court hearings and spoke out in his defense in the media, saying he had an alibi, and couldn’t have set the fires.

Ultimately Petersen was cleared, with blame for the fires shifting solely to Andrew Resto Gutierrez, who was arrested on the night of the fires as was Petersen.

However, during the arson investigation, police found pictures on his computer hard drive and charged him with possession of child pornography; Petersen turned himself into Hayward Police in February of last year.

Now, he has pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of obscene matter, California Penal Code section 311.11, which reads, in part, “Every person who knowingly possesses or controls any matter, representation of information, data, or image, including, but not limited to, any film, filmstrip, photograph, negative, slide, photocopy, videotape, video laser disc, computer hardware, computer software, computer floppy disc, data storage media, CD-ROM, or computer-generated equipment or any other computer-generated image that contains or incorporates in any manner, any film or filmstrip, the production of which involves the use of a person under 18 years of age, knowing that the matter depicts a person under 18 years of age personally engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 311.4.”

Petersen agreed to a sentence of three years of probation, and will have to register as a sex offender.

Park Street has been slow to recover from the fires, with the burned-out shell of 1600 Park Street being torn down only this month, over a year after the fires.

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