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Kansan Sentenced in Scheme That Led to Arson Death

Associated Press - August 5, 2013 6:58 pm

A Manhattan man who took part in an armed robbery that ultimately led to a deadly arson fire has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.

Twenty-year-old Dennis James Denzien pleaded guilty in May to aiding and abetting a robbery. The U.S. Attorney’s office says he was sentenced Monday in federal court in Topeka.

Denzien was one of five people charged in a series of incidents Feb. 6 that ended with an arson fire at a Manhattan apartment building. The fire killed 34-year-old tenant Vasanta Pallem, a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Kansas State University.

Denzien admitted driving another defendant to and from a convenience store for a robbery. Two other defendants have pleaded guilty to setting the fire to distract police investigating the robbery.