Watch CBS News

Professor sentenced to over 5 years in prison for 2021 arson spree near Dixie Fire

PIX Now afternoon edition 5-30-2024
PIX Now afternoon edition 5-30-2024 07:59

A former college professor from San Jose has been sentenced to over five years in federal prison for intentionally lighting fires as crews battled the destructive Dixie Fire that tore through five counties in Northern California in 2021.

Gary Maynard, 49, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of arson on federal property, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert.
According to prosecutors, Maynard deliberately set a series of fires in Shasta-Trinity National Forest near the ongoing Dixie Fire in Lassen National Forest. Maynard set some of his fires behind firefighters who were actively fighting the Dixie inferno, effectively surrounding them and in some cases potentially trapping them in.

"Maynard went on an arson spree on federal land while California faced one of the worst fire seasons in history," said Talbert on Thursday. "He intentionally made a dangerous situation more perilous by setting some of his fires behind the men and women fighting the Dixie Fire, potentially cutting off any chance of escape."

Maynard admitted to setting the Cascade and Everitt fires in July 2021, and the Ranch and Conard fires in August 2021. He was given five years and three months in federal prison, a little bit over the mandatory minimum of five years given for federal arson crimes.

According to San Diego State University, which has linked to some of Maynard's academic publications, he has a PhD in sociology and taught criminology at Sonoma State and Santa Clara universities.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.