An Egg Harbor Township man will spend the next seven-years in prison for setting a Lakewood residence on fire in August of 2020 with people inside of it.

On Friday, 27-year-old Jamal Preston was sentenced following a previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Arson and will have to serve at least 85-percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

Preston was also sentenced to eighteen months in connection to a previously entered guilty plea to an unrelated charge of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon that occurred two days earlier in 2020 in Berkeley Township and the sentences will run concurrently.

Investigators with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s K-9 Unit, learned that Preston started the fire intentionally and that he used an ignitable liquid and an open flame and did so while the residence was occupied by three people.

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Lakewood Police were first on the scene on August 22, 2020, a scene which Preston fled from but was ultimately arrested at a motel in Absecon by the United States Marshals Service on August 31, 2020.

He has been in the Ocean County Jail since that date.

Preston, as mentioned, was arrested on August 20, 2020 over in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township after being involved in an altercation with someone.

He was found with a knife when Berkeley Police arrived on the scene, and was then arrested, charged on a summons, and then released pending a future court date, under the rules of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer also announced that Ocean County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill is handling the case on behalf of the State.

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