Hampton man and brother sentenced in arson

By Julie Fann
star staff
GREENEVILLE -- A Hampton man and his brother were sentenced in U.S. District Court Wednesday for setting fire to more than 26 acres of Cherokee National Forest land two years ago.
Adrian Eugene Hopson was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years of probation, and 150 hours of community service. A fine against him was waived, and a court spokeswoman interviewed by phone did not know the amount of the fine. Hopson instead paid a $100 assessment fee and $380.24 restitution.
Hopson's brother, Gary Hopson, received the same sentence minus the 30 days in jail.
On Sept. 3, 2003, Adrian Hopson pled guilty to one count of arson for setting seven fires on Holston Mountain. He faced a maximum sentence of $250,000 and five years in prison.
At approximately 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2001 a radio tower worker arrived on Holston Mountain Road and noticed a fog that turned out to be smoke from several fires. The worker then saw Gary Hopson driving toward him and reported the license plate to authorities.
According to prosecutors, Adrian asked his brother to stop the car about every quarter mile, when he would get out, pile leaves and brush together, and ignite it.
"When Gary asked his brother what he was doing, Adrian replied, 'Burning the mountain down,'" according to court records. "Gary asked why, to which Adrian replied, 'Because I can.'"
Adrian Hopson had been consuming alcoholic beverages the night before and the morning of the crime.
The fires burned 26.25 acres of land and cost an estimated $13,000 to extinguish.