A Jefferson County man accused of setting several fires in 2009 that destroyed the former St. Clair Livestock Auction Barn off Highway 47 pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Gregory M. Cromer, 65, Cedar Hill, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23 on federal charges of damaging or destroying buildings.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2012 at the conclusion of a three-year-long investigation by county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Franklin County Arson Investigator Jim Schuhmacher said investigators had “overwhelming evidence” that Cromer was involved in setting fires Jan. 8, 2009, that destroyed the auction barn and several expensive horse trailers.

Schuhmacher said the case had been set to go to trial July 15-20. He said more than 65 witnesses were scheduled to testify.

See the Weekend Missourian for more details.