San Diego

Marine Pleads Guilty to Setting Fire in Gaslamp District Restaurant

The 21-year-old appeared in court Thursday

A 21-year-old U.S. Marine pleaded guilty to felony arson in a San Diego courtroom Thursday. Austin Kokin is out of custody on bail. 

Investigators said Kokin set multiple fires in a Gaslamp District restaurant in August after an argument with an employee there. 

According to police, the fires happened just after 1:30 a.m. at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine on Market Street. Police believe Kokin got in through the backdoor after working hours.

The restaurant's sprinkler system turned on and put out the fire. It caused an estimated $25,000 in damage.  

Kokin's lawyer, Patrick Griffin, said his client was blackout drunk that night. 

"He doesn't have any recollection of the event," said Griffin. "He had just turned 21 a few months prior, was out with his friends and had too much to drink." 

Griffin said that Kokin is a good person and is remorseful for what he did. 

"This incident is by no means reflective of who he is as a person," added Griffin. "He's been overseas before fighting for our country. It's unfortunate that this event will likely end his military career." 

At the time, Kokin was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 372, Marine Aircraft Group 39, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

Kokin faces up to six years in state prison. 

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