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Monday, December 6, 2021

Former college professor accused of starting four bushfires in California

The former criminal justice professor was accused by a federal grand jury of allegedly setting up four California bushfires in Northern California earlier in 2021.

Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine on each count, the Eastern California District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

But “any sentence, however, will be at the discretion of the court after considering any applicable legislative factors and Federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

Maynard allegedly set fires behind fire brigades fighting the expanding Dixie fire, which destroyed hundreds of buildings in July and August, according to media reports.

Maynard, a San Jose resident, is said to have started fires in Cascade and Everitt in July, and on August 7, he allegedly started fires at the ranch and Conard. more Dixie Fire nearby.

US Assistant Attorney Michael Anderson said in an August detention memo that he began “setting fire to the first responders fighting the Dixie fire,” which “increased the danger to the first responders” at the scene, according to CBS News.

The US Forest Service launched an investigation in Maynard on July 20 following reports of a cascade fire near Mount Shasta. Prior to his arrest, officials said he lived in his car and traveled alone in Northern California, according to court documents.

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An investigator found him under his black Kia Soul, which was stuck in a ditch as his chassis was stuck on a boulder, officials said. Before the arrest, a tracking device was installed on his car.

He previously worked at several California colleges, including Santa Clara University, investigators confirmed to news agencies. He also worked at Sonoma State University, where he majored in criminal justice and “deviant behavior,” according to the Sonoma State Archive Webpage.

Court documents say Maynard has denied arson. It is not immediately known whether he has a lawyer who can act on his behalf.

The US Attorney’s Office said Maynard is in pre-trial custody.

Earlier this week, a judge in Shasta County, California ruled that 31-year-old California Institute of Technology graduate Alexandra Suverneva was mentally incapable of standing trial after she was charged with allegedly burning deer in Northern California. She was arrested in September and charged with arson in connection with the fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To follow

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter for The Epoch Times from New York.

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