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Restitution part of sentencing for man who starts wildfire

Blog Post created by faithberry Employee on Feb 23, 2015

 

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According to the Idaho Mountain Express, a 19 year old man named Mauricio Pedraza-Rodriguez was sentenced earlier this month to pay $8,100 dollars in restitution, two years of probation and 120 hours of community service for accidentally setting the July 6, 2014 Gulch Fire in Hailey, Idaho.  He had set off fireworks for the 4th of July holiday and in the process ignited a wildfire that scorched an area approximately 1 square mile and caused at least 20 residents to be evacuated from their homes.


In the fifth district court on February 9, 2015 he pled guilty to a misdemeanor, the malicious injury of property by fire to public lands.  The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spent about $300,000 fighting the fire and additionally the Wood River Fire and Rescue spent about $40,000.


 

A few other instances where part of the sentencing for starting a wildfire has been restitution included a judgment against 3 men for starting the Colby Fire for 9.1 million dollars according to the Los Angeles Times, and restitution ordered in the amount of 2.7 million dollars toa Texas resident who started the Last Chance Fire in New Mexico according to Wildfire Today.


What do you think about the courts charging restitution fees as part of sentencing for arsonists who start wildfires? According to US Assistant Attorney Joseph O. Johns in the Los Angeles Times article, "Whether or not you start a fire intentionally or accidentally, if your actions cause a devastating wildfire, you are going to be held responsible. That may include a prison sentence. It may also include a very significant restitution order."


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