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A former educator in criminal justice admitted guilt to federal charges of arson for igniting numerous fires in northern California.
Federal prosecutors say that Gary Maynard, 49, confessed to starting numerous fires in the Shasta Trinity National Forest and Lassen National Forest in 2021 as part of a large wildfire.
He admitted his guilt for starting three fires on federal land on Thursday.
According to prosecutors, Maynard strategically placed some of his fires behind the firefighters who were actively battling the Dixie Fire, ultimately trapping them as they worked to contain one of the biggest wildfires in California’s history.
In 2021, the Dixie Fire raged through northern California, becoming one of the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history.
According to court records from Courthouse News, Maynard, who had previously worked at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, is suspected of showing signs of a mental health emergency. An unidentified individual who encountered him during the time of the fires reported that he was speaking incoherently and displaying symptoms similar to bipolar disorder.
The court documents state that he was apprehended when investigators placed a tracking device on his vehicle.
Maynard could potentially receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each charge of arson.
He is expected to receive his sentence on May 9th.