Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo and Winslow Police Chief Robert Stimelski reported a man has admitted in court to starting a fire that destroyed a Winslow bar in 2011.

Anthony C. Balog, M/29, of Hamilton Township, Mercer County, pleaded guilty Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Richard F. Wells to third-degree Arson.

Balog, a former Berlin Borough resident, was accused of starting a fire that destroyed the Golden Nugget Tavern on the 400 block of New Freedom Road in the predawn hours of February 11, 2011.

Emergency personnel responded to the fire around 4:50 a.m. and extinguished the blaze.  No one was injured in the fire.

Video surveillance showed an explosion in the kitchen of the bar near a rear window.  Authorities recovered a brick in the sink located just below the window where the explosion was seen.

During the investigation, police learned that a few hours prior to the fire Balog had been forcibly removed from the tavern after he got into altercation with the manager and other bar employees.

Further investigation revealed Balog had called a friend approximately one hour prior to the fire and told that person he was going to burn down the bar.

Additionally, police were advised by another person that Balog had used his vehicle without permission on the morning of the fire and the car’s interior had an odor of gasoline when it was returned.

Balog was arrested in March 2011 after he admitted to police that he did get into a fight with the tavern’s staff and told someone he was going to burn down the bar.

Balog accepted the plea as Assistant Prosecutor Michael Mink was preparing to try him before a jury this week.

Under the terms of the plea, Balog faces a recommended sentence of four years in state prison.  He is scheduled to be sentenced March 6.

Released Friday, February 6, 2015.