Santa Barbara Man Pleads Guilty to Arson Charges Stemming from Furniture Store Fire
Zacchaeus Taylor, 31, Will Be Sentenced to Three Years, Will Register as Arson Offender for Life
A 31-year-old Santa Barbara man pleaded guilty to arson in connection with a fire started in June 2022 at La Cumbre Plaza, which spread to a furniture store in the shopping center and caused damage to some of the inventory.
According to Santa Barbara County District Attorney John Savrnoch, Zacchaeus Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of arson of property as part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, and Taylor is expected to be sentenced to three years in state prison and will be required to pay restitution and register as an arson offender for life.
Taylor was arrested on July 7, 2022, in connection with the fire, which occurred two weeks prior on June 23. According to the DA’s Office, the arson was committed on the outside of the Furniture Gallery by Mattress Mike, at the former Sears location at La Cumbre Plaza.
The fire then “grew outside the building before setting off an overhanging fire sprinkler system,” Savrnoch said, which “ultimately controlled and extinguished the fire.”
Due to the fire and sprinkler system, the shop experienced “significant flood damage to inventory,” much of which had already been sold at the time.
“It was a difficult time for Mr. Gustafson, the owner of Mattress Mike, who had been dealing with COVID-19 logistical issues when the fire occurred,” Savrnoch said.
According to Santa Barbara Superior Court Records, Taylor is a repeat offender who had been arrested nearly 30 times in Santa Barbara since 2010, with the charges ranging from mostly misdemeanors — trespassing on railroad property, petty theft, drug possession — to several more serious felony charges for robbery and vandalism. In his most recent cases, he pleaded no contest to felony grand theft in September 2020 and to two misdemeanors for soliciting a lewd act and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize in September 2021. This is Taylor’s first arson charge.
Taylor is currently being held in Santa Barbara County’s Main Jail and will be sentenced on June 28 in Department 2 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court before being transferred to state prison.
“This successful prosecution was due to the tenacious work of city fire investigators collaborating with Santa Barbara Police Detectives and District Attorney investigators to ensure Mr. Taylor was held accountable for his crime,” Savrnoch said.