An alleged arsonist faces a four-count indictment for starting multiple fires in Northern California.
Gary Stephen Maynard was charged in August for setting fires in Siskiyou and Lassen counties. The 47-year old has a Ph.D. and lectured in criminal justice, social science, cults, and deviant behavior at Sonoma State University. He was under police investigation in July after a U.S. Forest official saw Maynard trying to dig his car out of a rut near what became known as the Cascade Fire. He's been in the main Sacramento County jail since his arrest. Maynard’s attorneys at the federal public defender’s office could not be reached for comment. He has previously denied setting the fires.
Maynard, who taught criminal justice at multiple California universities including Sonoma State University and Santa Clara University, faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of arson if convicted. Arson arrests have skyrocketed in recent years. Investigators made 136 arrests for arson in 2021, almost double the number of such arrests in 2016.