Three Plead Guilty to Federal Charges in Church Fires

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Three former college students have pleaded guilty to federal arson charges in the burning of nine rural Alabama churches last February.

Matthew Cloyd, Benjamin Nathan Moseley and Russell Lee Debusk entered the guilty pleas as they stood before a federal judge in Birmingham, who said they each face a minimum seven-year sentence.

The three are also charged with state crimes, and county prosecutors insist that any plea deal include state prison time after the men finish their federal sentences.

All the churches have either rebuilt or are in the process after receiving an outpouring of donations, including more than 350-thousand dollars raised by Birmingham-Southern College, where the three men were students.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)