A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted a former Santa Clara University professor on charges related to an arson spree near the massive Dixie Fire this summer. The Thursday indictment charges Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, with setting four fires over the course of two weeks in July and August. His blazes threatened to trap firefighters battling the Dixie firestorm, California’s second largest in history. He now faces four counts of arson to federal property and a count of setting timber alight.
Maynard was arrested earlier this year after an investigation that involved a tracking device being put on his car. While in custody, according to an affidavit, the ex-teacher “became enraged and began kicking the jail cell door.” Court records state that he began screaming: “I’m going to kill you, fucking pig! I told those fuckers I didn’t start any of those fires!”
If convicted, he could be sent to prison for up to 20 years and fined as much as $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. Maynard was previously a lecturer at a number of California schools, including Sonoma State University, where he taught classes on criminal justice, cults, and deviant behavior.