By Shereen Siewert

The Wausau man who started a fire that ripped through a west-side laundromat and flower shop will spend 13 years in prison, after being sentenced on arson and burglary charges.

Azeez Aleem Hakeem, 33, pleaded guilty Aug. 3 in Marathon County Circuit Court to both felony charges and was sentenced Dec. 29. Circuit Judge Greg Huber also sentenced Hakeem to eight years of extended supervision following his release from prison.

A conviction for carrying a concealed knife, charges filed in another case, resulted in a sentence of nine months in jail. Those sentences will be served concurrently, or at the same time.

Investigators say Hakeem started the April 2019 fire after an argument with the owner of Rainbow Coin Laundry, 210 Clark St., who had asked Hakeem to removed his personal property being stored at the business.

Hours after the argument ensued, between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Hakeem allegedly returned to the laundromat and set fire to the personal property he had been asked to remove from the business. The blaze that followed destroyed both the laundromat and the adjacent Blossoms & Bows flower shop. Firefighters spent hours battling the blaze and remained on scene more than 24 hours after the fire started.

Azeez Aleem Hakeem. Photo courtesy of the Wausau Police Department

The building burned to the ground.

Police say Hakeem, who has prior convictions for possession of methamphetamine and carrying a concealed knife, admitted he started the blaze.

Last year, Hakeem entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the charges and a court-ordered competency exam was completed in August 2019. But during a scheduled hearing June 10, Hakeem withdrew his so-called “insanity plea” and the case moved toward a plea agreement.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Huber also ordered Hakeem to pay restitution and undergo AODA treatment.

Hakeem was granted 630 days credit for time served. A restitution request will be filed wining 30 days.