Guilty plea entered by former professor to setting fires behind firefighters responding to the Dixie Fire

A former professor pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. Federal Court in Sacramento on three counts of arson on federal property. The plea was entered by Gary Stephen Maynard, 49, of San Jose.

According to court documents, Maynard engaged in an arson spree in the Shasta Trinity National Forest and in the vicinity of the then-ongoing Dixie Fire in the Lassen National Forest. Maynard set some of his fires behind firefighters who were actively fighting the Dixie Fire, effectively surrounding these firefighters as they responded to one of the largest wildfires in California history.

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

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

Maynard is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9, 2024, by U.S. District Judge Daniel J. Calabretta. Maynard faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count to which he pleaded guilty. 

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