LEWISTON — An Auburn man was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison after setting a couch on fire in February at a store where he worked.

Ryan Graffam Androscoggin County jail photo

A judge in 8th District Court suspended 7½ years of the sentence for Ryan J. Graffam, 22, of 8 Orange St., Auburn, which means he will serve roughly another year behind bars. He will be credited for the time he’s already served at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn since his arrest in February.

After his release, Graffam will be on probation for four years. Conditions of his release include required psychological evaluation and counseling.

Graffam pleaded guilty Tuesday to Class A arson, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison

Defense attorney Justin Leary said Tuesday that he argued before Justice Valerie Stanfill that counseling would be more beneficial for Graffam than incarceration.

“Nobody’s claiming the fire was done maliciously or out of anger or it was done for monetary gain,” Leary said. “It was really borne of some mental health issues.”

Although Graffam appeared via videoconference from jail, family members appeared in the courtroom and asked the judge to show leniency in sentencing, Leary said.

Investigators say Graffam set fire to a couch in a storage area in the back of the Big Lots store on Center Street in Auburn, reported it to store management, then put out the fire with the manager.

“It was almost a cry for help,” Leary said.

The couch was destroyed and two couches stored nearby were damaged, investigators said.

Before Tuesday’s court hearing, prosecutors had agreed to dismiss a felony charge of aggravated criminal mischief against Graffam.

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