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Frequently arrested man accused of setting fire to Johnson City boarding house

Johnson City Press • Updated Apr 17, 2018 at 7:37 PM

A Johnson City man was charged with aggravated arson Monday after setting fire to a boarding house, police said.

About 10:30 a.m., the Johnson City Fire Department was called to a fire at 307 W. Watauga Ave. Ronald Sams, 57, was found seated beside the flames, and the boarding house was filled with smoke.

Police said Sams had intentionally set the floor of his apartment on fire. The fire was discovered by a resident who lived across the hall.

Sams was held in the Washington County Detention Center on $15,000 bond with a hearing set for Tuesday in Sessions Court.

Sams is well known to Johnson City police. He was arrested five times in 2017:

• Aug. 31, indecent exposure.

• Aug. 16, theft of property.

• July 27, disorderly conduct.

• July 10, criminal trespassing, burglary of a motor vehicle reckless burning.

• July 4, failure to appear.

Sams was also arrested three times in 2015:

• In October, he was charged with simple possession/casual exchange and contempt of court.

• In March, Sams ran from police and threw punches as he was arrested following a strong-arm robbery at a South Roan Street convenience market, police said at the time. He was charged with robbery, vandalism, evading arrest and resisting arrest.

• In January, Sams was charged with burglary, resisting arrest and theft of property under $500 after a homeowner returned after several days to find someone in the home.

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