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Former professor pleads guilty to setting fires behind crews during Calif. Dixie Fire

Gary Stephen Maynard admitted to setting fires behind firefighters fighting the Dixie Fire and setting other wildfires


Burned trees rise above a truck destroyed by the Dixie Fire in the town of Greenville.

Photo/Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Red Bluff Daily News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert Thursday announced Gary Stephen Maynard, 49, of San Jose, pleaded guilty today to three counts of arson on federal property.

According to court documents, Maynard engaged in an arson spree in the Shasta Trinity National Forest and the vicinity of the then-ongoing Dixie Fire in the Lassen National Forest, a press release issued Thursday by the U.S. Attorney Office.

Maynard set some of his fires behind firefighters actively fighting the Dixie Fire, effectively surrounding these firefighters as they responded to one of the largest wildfires in California history.

He admitted to setting the following fires during this arson spree: the Cascade Fire on July 20, 2021, the Everitt Fire on July 21, 2021, the Ranch Fire on Aug. 7, 2021, and the Conard Fire on Aug. 7, 2021.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shea Kenny, Sam Stefanki, and Michael Anderson are prosecuting the case.

Maynard is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9 by U.S. District Judge Daniel J. Calabretta. He faces a maximum statutory jail penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine for each count to which he pleaded guilty.

Arson to federal property carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, the release said. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the court’s discretion after considering any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which consider several variables.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CalFire, the California Highway Patrol, and the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department, the release said.


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