1. #1
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    Post Hunters Brooke Prosecution Notes

    **Follow-ups to the multiple arson incident will be posted here**

    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - Five of the six suspects charged with
    arson for allegedly setting fires that caused $10 million in damage
    to an upscale suburban Washington housing development pleaded not
    guilty Wednesday in federal court.
    Lawyers for Michael Everhart, Roy McCann, Jeremy Parady, Aaron
    Speed and Patrick Walsh entered pleas in front of U.S. Magistrate
    Judge Charles Day. Along with arson, the men are also charged with
    conspiracy and aiding and abetting for allegedly carrying out the
    fires. A sixth suspect, Michael Gilbert, was charged with arson but
    has not yet been indicted.
    Prosecutors believe the men drove to the Hunters Brooke
    development early Dec. 6, poured chemicals in homes that were under
    construction and set them ablaze. Ten houses were destroyed and 16
    others were damaged.
    The men allegedly were all part of a group known as "the
    family" and had a mutual interest in street racing. Prosecutors
    claim the group, led by Walsh, plotted the fires as far back as
    August. Speed worked as a private security guard at Hunters Brooke.
    No clear motive has emerged, but court filings suggest Walsh
    hoped to make a name for the group with the fires. Revenge is also
    a possible motive, since Speed was angry at his employer and Parady
    was rejected by the builder for a job, according to prosecutors.
    Trial dates were set for the five who pleaded not guilty. Walsh
    will be tried May 31, Parady on June 14, Speed on July 12, McCann
    on Aug. 9 and Everhart on Aug. 23.
    Three of the men were ordered released on home detention as they
    await trial. McCann was let go Wednesday morning, more than two
    weeks after Day originally ordered him released. He did not comment
    as he left the courthouse with his mother, Barbara Harrison, and
    two friends.
    McCann was originally supposed to live at Harrison's house in
    Marbury, but her landlord would not allow him to stay there. Under
    an arrangement approved by Day on Wednesday, McCann will live at
    his girlfriend's house with Harrison.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Another indictment

    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A seventh person has been charged in
    connection with the December arsons at a Charles County housing
    development.
    William Fitzpatrick has been indicted on a charge of making a
    false statement to investigators looking into the fires at the
    Hunters Brooke subdivision in Indian Head.
    According to the indictment, Fitzpatrick told investigators that
    he left his security guard post at the development at 4:45 a-m on
    December sixth, 2004. In fact, he left at an earlier time.
    Fitzpatrick made his initial court appearance today and was
    released on his own recognizance.
    The fires caused ten (m) million dollars in damage to dozens of
    homes in the development, which was under construction. Sex men
    face federal arson and conspiracy charges.
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    By BRIAN WITTE
    Associated Press Writer
    BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal grand jury added 31 more arson counts
    to an indictment against five Maryland men accused in the largest
    arson case in Maryland history, the U.S. attorney's office
    announced Monday.
    The superseding indictment, which replaces and expands on the
    charges, also accused the alleged ringleader - 20-year-old Patrick
    Walsh of Fort Washington - of possession of a firearm by an
    unlawful user of a controlled substance and conspiracy to
    distribute the drug Ecstasy.
    The indictment was returned Monday at U.S. District Court in
    Greenbelt.
    All five men have been charged with arson, conspiracy to commit
    arson and aiding and abetting in the Dec. 6 fires at the Hunter's
    Brooke development in Charles County. The other men are Aaron
    Speed, 21, of Waldorf; Michael Everhart, 20, of Waldorf; Jeremy
    Parady, 20, of Accokeek; and Roy McCann, 22, of Marbury.
    The latest indictment charges the men with arson on 31 more lots
    in the development than the four lots that were cited in the first
    indictment. Each arson charge carries a mandatory minimum of five
    years in prison, with a maximum of 20 years in prison.
    The 38-count indictment alleges that the five suspects conspired
    with each other "and with other persons known and unknown to the
    grand jury."
    The fires caused $10 million in damage to dozens of homes at the
    development in Indian Head.
    Another suspect, Michael Gilbert, isn't named in the indictment,
    but he has been charged in a criminal complaint in the case.
    Prosecutors believe Walsh was the head of a group called "the
    family" which planned and set the fires. Its members had a mutual
    interest in street racing and Chevrolet Cavalier cars, often
    meeting at the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Waldorf.
    Several possible motives for the fires have been presented by
    prosecutors and in court filings, including an alleged wish by
    Walsh to gain fame for "the family." One defendant also told
    investigators that race my have been a motivation. Many of the
    residents who planned to move into Hunters Brooke were black, while
    all the suspects are white.
    Walsh is scheduled to be tried first, on May 31, but his
    attorney, William Purpura, has filed a motion to have that trial
    date pushed back.
    Purpura didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.


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    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - Five of the suspects in the largest
    residential arson case in Maryland history pleaded not guilty
    Friday to additional charges filed in the case, and their attorneys
    argued to suppress evidence in their upcoming trials.
    Defense attorneys contended investigators were not fully honest
    with the suspects during December interviews in which authorities
    sought incriminating evidence against them and failed to adequately
    inform them of their rights. Federal agents and a county detective
    who took part in the investigation testified that the information
    they gathered was voluntarily given.
    John Chamble, a public defender for suspect Aaron Speed, argued
    before U.S. District Judge Roger Titus that his client was duped
    into taking a tour of the Hunter's Brooke development in Charles
    County with investigators on Dec. 15, nine days after the blaze
    that caused more than $10 million in damage.
    Chamble asked detective Charles Baker, of the Charles County
    sheriff's office, if the tour of the complex was a ploy just to get
    Speed to talk about what he knew of the fires.
    "That was the idea," Baker said.
    Chamble also said authorities applied psychological pressure on
    Speed "to play with his head" and get him to talk about his
    alleged accomplices. That involved walking Speed into a room at the
    sheriff's office that included photographs that were part of the
    investigation and a sketch of him.
    Investigators testified that the suspects willingly took part in
    the interviews.
    Testimony was scheduled to continue next week, and Titus held
    off on ruling on most of the motions.
    However, Titus granted a request to postpone the trial of the
    alleged ringleader - 20-year-old Patrick Walsh of Fort Washington -
    from May 31 to Sept. 6.
    Friday's hearing was held four days after a federal grand jury
    added 31 more arson counts to an indictment against five of the six
    men accused in the case.
    The superseding indictment also accused Walsh of possession of a
    firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and
    conspiracy to distribute the drug Ecstasy.
    All five men have been charged with arson, conspiracy to commit
    arson and aiding and abetting.
    The other men are Michael Everhart, 20, of Waldorf; Jeremy
    Parady, 20, of Accokeek; and Roy McCann, 22, of Marbury.
    The latest indictment charges the men with arson on 31 more lots
    in the development than the four lots that were cited in the first
    indictment. Each arson charge carries a mandatory minimum of five
    years in prison, with a maximum of 20 years in prison.
    Another suspect, Michael Gilbert, isn't named in the indictment,
    but he has been charged in a criminal complaint in the case.
    Prosecutors believe Walsh was the head of a group called "the
    family" which planned and set the fires. Its members had a mutual
    interest in street racing and Chevrolet Cavalier cars, often
    meeting at the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Waldorf.
    Several possible motives for the fires have been presented by
    prosecutors and in court filings, including an alleged wish by
    Walsh to gain fame for "the family." One defendant also told
    investigators that race may have been a motivation. Many of the
    residents who planned to move into Hunters Brooke were black, while
    all the suspects are white.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    That is outrageous! The investigators were "less than honest"? Why, they should be fired! Or better yet prosecuted! After all, everybody knows that the US Constitution guarantees an suspect's right for the cops not to lie to them, right?

    Too bad, so sad! sounds like the brothers used sound investigative techniques and solid interview tactics to gain confessions. Happens every day and it is perfectly legal.

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    Hmm, George, seems I was right about the Racial Motivation after all. Seems Mr. Parady went along with the arsonists because he "Knew or presumed most of the home-buyers were African-American."

    Apology accepted....
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    Hmm, George, seems I was right about the Racial Motivation after all. Seems Mr. Parady went along with the arsonists because he "Knew or presumed most of the home-buyers were African-American."

    Apology accepted....
    No apology forthcoming.

    Two things:

    1. I never said the fires were not racially motivated. What I have maintained, and still maintain, is that there is no evidence that they were racially motivated.

    2. Your problem is that I was in DC when the arrests went down. I read the local papers. Although the indictment alludes to a racial motive, Both Paraday and Speed have adamantly denied it...even as late as Wednesday. I was also with a number of BATFE agents last week. Many of them do not believe the racial motivation either.

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    It's OK George, I know your ego just won't let you admit that you are WRONG. I don't need an apology, I get satisfaction just knowing that some know-it-all from another State who flapped his gums about an incident in my area is wrong.

    I don't care how many BATF (An impotent organization hell-bent on stripping Americans of their Constitutional Rights) Agents you talked to, most of them aren't from this area either, and probably have little knowledge of the history of race-relations in this region.
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    It's OK George, I know your ego just won't let you admit that you are WRONG. I don't need an apology, I get satisfaction just knowing that some know-it-all from another State who flapped his gums about an incident in my area is wrong.

    I don't care how many BATF (An impotent organization hell-bent on stripping Americans of their Constitutional Rights) Agents you talked to, most of them aren't from this area either, and probably have little knowledge of the history of race-relations in this region.
    You have no idea how mistaken you are. The BATFE agents I spoke with were involved with the case...way more involved than you are, my friend.

    And also, the BATFE happens to be the single-most important federal law enforcement agency in the fight against arson. They have recently opened a research facility devoted to nothing but research on fire. There are fire protection engineers employed by the agency full-time. They provide tons of fire investigation training not only to public side investigators, but to the insurance industry.

    Your characterization of them shows a lack of knowledge, a lack of resepct for their true mission and a racist, militia-type attitude. If you had ever worked with the BATFE...even one time...you would know how ludicrous your statement actually is.

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    You know what, I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just shut up on the subject. But I am sick of you being a hypocrite...so I am going to let you have it, like so many on here would love to do, and risk my posting privleges for calling you names. It's going to be in all caps, to make sure you get the brunt of my anger...

    HOW DARE YOU INSINUATE THAT I AM A RACIST. I DON'T ASSUME THAT YOU ARE A FAT SLOB COP/DIME STORE FIRE INVESTIGATOR WHO STUFFS YOUR FAT A-S WITH DONUTS ALL DAY, SO DON'T ASSUME ME TO BE A RACIST. I HAVE LIVED IN THIS AREA ALL MY LIFE, BORN HERE TOO...I THINK I AM A LITTLE MORE F--KING QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS DOWN HERE THAN YOU ARE. JUST BECAUSE I KNOW THERE ARE HATE CRIMES AGAINST BLACKS IN THE REGION DOES NOT MAKE ME A RACIST. If I were black and talking about these problems,would you be so apt to call me racist? No, but I will talk about them because I am a realist. I am not one of these White's who assumes that all Racism is concocted by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (Even though I think some of it is.) And that we live in this perfect society that should pay all blacks back for Slavery and we should all join hands...Kumbay-f--king-ya.

    Lets face it, the Region was mostly White until the 80's. Blacks moved from the city, Whites Sold their property to get away from them and went further south. Well, the black population swelled in the region, and they moved their families southward, just like the Whites did 15 years earlier. Well, down there in rural Southern Maryland, they just aren't as accepting of the Colored Folks as we were up here in Prince Georges, and it's evident in their treatment of Blacks in that region. There are still businesses in areas of that region that will close down if a black man pulls into the parking lot. Is it right? No, not morally....but I believe that people have a right to do what they want with their business. I would more than likely never know if a business was treating minorities differently, because I don't care. I don't go around looking for racist people or racism. But when it's evident, as it was in this arson case, it doesn't take a Brain Surgeon.

    Your Friends in the ATF sound like they want to try to play down the obvious in this case. Which is not surprising considering some of the Shoddy Arson Investigation they have done in the past.

    So George, I won't debate the merits of how Bad New Jersey smells, and you don't try to pretend you know about the problems in this region.
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    You know what, I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt and just shut up on the subject. But I am sick of you being a hypocrite...so I am going to let you have it, like so many on here would love to do, and risk my posting privleges for calling you names. It's going to be in all caps, to make sure you get the brunt of my anger...

    HOW DARE YOU INSINUATE THAT I AM A RACIST. I DON'T ASSUME THAT YOU ARE A FAT SLOB COP/DIME STORE FIRE INVESTIGATOR WHO STUFFS YOUR FAT A-S WITH DONUTS ALL DAY, SO DON'T ASSUME ME TO BE A RACIST. I HAVE LIVED IN THIS AREA ALL MY LIFE, BORN HERE TOO...I THINK I AM A LITTLE MORE F--KING QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS DOWN HERE THAN YOU ARE. JUST BECAUSE I KNOW THERE ARE HATE CRIMES AGAINST BLACKS IN THE REGION DOES NOT MAKE ME A RACIST. If I were black and talking about these problems,would you be so apt to call me racist? No, but I will talk about them because I am a realist. I am not one of these White's who assumes that all Racism is concocted by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (Even though I think some of it is.) And that we live in this perfect society that should pay all blacks back for Slavery and we should all join hands...Kumbay-f--king-ya.

    Lets face it, the Region was mostly White until the 80's. Blacks moved from the city, Whites Sold their property to get away from them and went further south. Well, the black population swelled in the region, and they moved their families southward, just like the Whites did 15 years earlier. Well, down there in rural Southern Maryland, they just aren't as accepting of the Colored Folks as we were up here in Prince Georges, and it's evident in their treatment of Blacks in that region. There are still businesses in areas of that region that will close down if a black man pulls into the parking lot. Is it right? No, not morally....but I believe that people have a right to do what they want with their business. I would more than likely never know if a business was treating minorities differently, because I don't care. I don't go around looking for racist people or racism. But when it's evident, as it was in this arson case, it doesn't take a Brain Surgeon.

    Your Friends in the ATF sound like they want to try to play down the obvious in this case. Which is not surprising considering some of the Shoddy Arson Investigation they have done in the past.

    So George, I won't debate the merits of how Bad New Jersey smells, and you don't try to pretend you know about the problems in this region.
    Do they teach you to read in Md.?

    1. I said your statements were racist. Some of your statements in this post are racist. I didn't call you a racist.
    2. My "friends" in the BATFE are not downplaying anything. Apparently the only person who wants to paint this as the origin of a race war is you.
    3. NJ, as Md., has places that smell like crap. It also has places that are among the most beautiful in earth.
    4. You are acting like a bufoon.

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    Post Update

    By BRIAN WITTE
    Associated Press Writer
    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - The largest known residential arson case
    in Maryland history has caused "incalculable damage" to race
    relations in the state, a federal judge said Tuesday as he decided
    to put off sentencing one of five men charged in the crimes until
    he could learn more about the man's involvement.
    Under a plea agreement, Jeremy D. Parady, 21, would have
    received nine years and 10 months in prison for pleading guilty to
    one count of conspiracy to commit arson at the suburban Washington
    housing development where many homeowners were black.
    But U.S. District Judge Roger Titus said he did not want to
    accept a plea deal without more details about Parady's role in the
    crimes.
    "I'm concerned that to impose a sentence without knowing that
    would raise a substantial risk that the sentences ultimately to be
    assessed in this case - once the guilt or innocence of all those
    charged has been determined - would not be appropriately
    proportional," Titus said.
    The judge described the crimes as "extraordinarily heinous."
    The plea agreement also called for Parady to pay $4.18 million in
    restitution. But Titus said monetary damages "simply do not assess
    the picture adequately."
    "This is a case involving incalculable damage to both the
    present and future residents of this subdivision, incalculable
    damage in progress in race relations in this state, incalculable
    damage to ... our image as a melting pot that welcomes people of
    all different backgrounds," Titus said.
    The judge also described the crimes as "incalculable in terms
    of creating a climate of fear that should not be tolerated in a
    modern society."
    The crimes also damaged the public trust, Titus said, because
    assets of a volunteer fire department were used to commit crimes.
    Parady, of Accokeek, was a trainee at a local volunteer fire
    company. According to the plea agreement, he drove one of the cars
    the suspects used to travel from house to house as they lit the
    blazes. He also supplied some of the flares used to set containers
    of flammable materials ablaze, flares he took from the fire
    company.
    Six men were originally accused of setting the fires at the
    Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head that caused $10 million
    in damage. Five were later indicted on multiple counts of arson,
    conspiracy to commit arson and aiding and abetting charges. A
    criminal complaint against the sixth, Michael Gilbert, was dropped
    earlier this month. All of the accused are white.
    Prosecutors believe the men drove to the development Dec. 6,
    poured chemicals at 35 homes that were under construction and
    torched them. At least 10 houses were destroyed. No one was hurt.
    Titus said the leaders in the arson should be more heavily
    punished than suspects who just followed along.
    "At this point I'm not sure if I have a leader or a follower in
    front of me," Titus said.
    The judge also said he was concerned about Parady's "admittedly
    false testimony in front of me."
    Titus deferred sentencing until an Oct. 18 hearing, after the
    trials of the other men which begin July 12.
    Timothy Sullivan, Parady's attorney agreed to defer the
    sentencing to a later date. He said he hoped the court will accept
    the plea agreement then.
    Donna Sanger, an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case,
    said upcoming trials for the other men will provide more
    information about the case.
    When Parady pleaded guilty in April, Sanger said he took part in
    the crime because "he knew or perceived that many of the
    purchasers of the houses in that development were African-American.
    Besides racism, other possible motives for the fires have been
    presented by prosecutors and in court filings, including a desire
    by alleged ringleader Patrick Walsh to gain fame for a loosely
    organized group called "the family."
    The remaining defendants are Aaron Speed, Michael Everhart, Roy
    McCann, and Walsh.

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    Post June 23rd

    By BRIAN WITTE
    Associated Press Writer
    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A security guard who was upset at his
    employer for denying him bereavement leave when his baby son died
    pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in setting fires that did $10
    million in damage to houses under construction in southern
    Maryland.
    Aaron Speed, 21, of Waldorf, was angry at his employer and the
    people buying houses in the upscale Hunters Brooke development,
    said prosecutor Timothy Atkins.
    "He was also resentful about the wealth of the residents, who
    he believed looked down at him and his own limited economic and
    educational status," Atkins said. Speed said in U.S. District
    Court that he had dropped out of high school in the 12th grade.
    Speed entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court to one count
    of conspiracy to commit arson. Under a deal with prosecutors,
    charges of arson and aiding and abetting were dropped and Speed
    agreed to help prosecute the three remaining defendants.
    He could face between five and 20 years in prison and a $250,000
    fine. Speed could also be ordered to pay restitution. The plea
    agreement did not include a recommended sentence. Speed's
    sentencing was set for Oct. 18.
    Speed suffered through several difficult family situations
    before the fires, including the death last year of his son and his
    own placement the year before in a foster home by an organization
    specializing in mental health treatment.
    The baby, Christian A. Speed, died in April 2004 of intestinal
    complications. When investigators questioned Speed after the Dec. 6
    fires, asking him who might have started the blazes, he said,
    "Someone who works at the site and recently experienced a great
    loss," according to an affidavit.
    Speed did not speak at length during his hearing, answering
    questions from Judge Roger W. Titus with, "Yes" and "Yes, sir."
    Speed's attorney, John Chamble, declined to comment until the
    sentencing hearing.
    Speed worked as a guard for Security Services of America, which
    had been hired to protect the Hunters Brooke development in Indian
    Head. Atkins said he gave the other suspects maps, told them which
    houses were unoccupied, encouraged a guard working at the site to
    leave the night the fires were set and helped torch the homes.
    He was the first suspect arrested after the fires were
    discovered. Prosecutors believe the men drove to the development,
    poured chemicals at 35 homes under construction and torched them.
    At least 10 houses were destroyed. No one was hurt. It was the
    largest residential arson case in Maryland history.
    Five other men were also arrested. Charges against one man were
    dropped, while another - 21-year-old Jeremy Parady of Accokeek -
    has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson in a
    deal with prosecutors. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Sanger
    declined to comment when asked if she was negotiating plea
    agreements with the remaining defendants.
    Prosecutors have presented several motives in court and in
    documents in the case, including racism and a desire by the alleged
    ringleader, Patrick Walsh, to raise the profile of a loosely knit
    group called "the family." All the suspects are white, while most
    of the homeowners are black.
    The remaining defendants are Walsh, Michael Everhart and Roy
    McCann.

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    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - The insurers for the company building the
    Hunters Brooke development in Charles County have filed a lawsuit
    against the security firm that employed one of the men who
    allegedly set fire to the subdivision last December.
    The suit, filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt,
    accuses Security Services of America, or SSA, of negligence and
    breach of contract. The suit seeks "in excess of $3 million."
    SSA was hired to provide security for Hunters Brooke as it was
    under construction in Indian Head. An early morning arson fire on
    Dec. 6 damaged dozens of homes, causing $10 million in damage.
    One of the men accused of the crime, Aaron Speed, worked for SSA
    and was on duty that night at Hunters Brooke. Speed has since
    pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. Speed told
    investigators that he took part in the crime because he thought SSA
    did not treat him well after his infant son died.
    Another security guard, William Fitzpatrick, was supposed to be
    on duty that morning. He allegedly told investigators he left his
    post at 4:45 a.m., but he was indicted this year for lying to
    investigators, who believe he actually left Hunters Brooke earlier.
    The lawsuit was filed by underwriters for Lloyds of London and
    Axis Specialty Europe Ltd., the insurers for builder Patriot Homes.
    It claims there was "an express and/or implied" agreement
    "that SSA would provide security personnel who were of the highest
    moral character, and whose backgrounds and fitness for the job had
    been properly vetted, and that SSA provided appropriate
    professional training and supervision to its security personnel."
    The first trial in the case, of alleged ringleader Patrick
    Walsh, was scheduled to begin Aug. 16 in Baltimore.
    ---
    Information from: The Daily Record, http://www.mddailyrecord.com

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    Jury selection to begin for trial of Charles County arson suspect

    BALTIMORE (AP) - Jury selection begins today in Baltimore for
    the trial of Patrick Walsh -- the alleged ringleader in the fires
    that were set last December at a Charles County subdivision.
    It's the first trial in the case. Two of the four other suspects
    have already pleaded guilty. Walsh is charged with arson and
    conspiracy.
    Authorities believe the men shared an interest in street racing
    or were part of a group known as "The Family" that met regularly
    at a Denny's restaurant in Waldorf.
    The fires at the homes being built in the Hunters Brooke
    subdivision caused ten (m) million dollars in damage.

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    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal jury was selected Tuesday for the
    trial of the alleged ringleader in a string of arsons at a Charles
    County subdivision last December, fires that caused $10 million in
    damage.
    Prosecutors and attorneys for Patrick Walsh picked 12 jurors and
    four alternates from a pool of roughly 75 people at U.S. District
    Court in Baltimore. The panel is made up of 10 men and six women.
    Opening arguments were scheduled for Wednesday.
    Walsh is charged with multiple counts of arson and conspiracy
    for allegedly helping set fire to more than two dozen homes in the
    Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head. He is the first of five
    suspects to go on trial, although two have already pleaded guilty.
    Prosecutors have painted Walsh as the leader of the group, a
    person obsessed with fires and explosives who sketched designs of
    homemade bombs and set earlier fires in a field and parking lot.
    Walsh allegedly plotted the Hunters Brooke arsons to make a name
    for a group he led called "The Family." Several of the other
    suspects arrested in the case were allegedly part of The Family,
    which coalesced in part around a mutual interest in street racing.
    The two suspects who pleaded guilty, Aaron Speed and Jeremy
    Parady, have been identified in court and in case records as
    possible witnesses in Walsh's trial.
    Walsh pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this year. His
    attorney, William Purpura, has denied that Walsh masterminded the
    fires.
    Authorities have identified multiple motives for the arsons,
    including revenge and the possibility that some suspects were angry
    that many of Hunters Brooke's new residents are black. All five men
    arrested in the case are white.
    Ten homes were destroyed and 16 damaged during the pre-dawn
    fires Dec. 6. No one was injured and all the homes were unoccupied,
    but the fires proved to be the worst case of residential arson in
    state history.
    Titus said he expects Walsh's trial will last three weeks. The
    case was moved from federal court in Greenbelt to Baltimore because
    of pretrial publicity.
    Walsh also faces drug and weapons charges, but Titus ruled
    earlier those counts will be heard in a separate trial.

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    Post August 17th

    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    BALTIMORE (AP) - The alleged mastermind of a massive fire at a
    southern Maryland subdivision in December hatched the plan to make
    a name for the gang he was trying to form and establish himself as
    its feared leader, prosecutors said Wednesday.
    Patrick Walsh recruited members for the group, known as "The
    Family," and came up with the plan to set fire to several dozen
    homes at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head in the
    pre-dawn hours of Dec. 6, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney
    Donna Sanger.
    "He wanted to be the leader of a gang that ran things in
    Charles County," Sanger said in opening statements of Walsh's
    trial. "He wanted The Family to be people you didn't mess with,
    people you feared."
    But Walsh's attorney, William Purpura, said the government's
    case is short on forensic evidence, resting instead on statements
    made by Walsh's alleged accomplices, many of whom have proven
    themselves as liars.
    Walsh, 21, faces conspiracy charges and multiple counts of arson
    for allegedly setting the fires along with four other men. His
    trial, which began Tuesday in U.S. District Court with jury
    selection, is expected to take three weeks. He faces a maximum
    possible sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of arson and
    conspiracy.
    The fires destroyed 10 homes and damaged another 16 at the
    development that was still largely under construction.
    Investigators found flammable material in several others that had
    not been lighted on fire.
    No one was injured, but a family that lived in the one occupied
    house was forced to flee the flames. The incident, which caused $10
    million in damage, was the worst case of residential arson in
    Maryland history.
    Walsh's case is the first trial of five men accused of setting
    the fires. Two of the others, Aaron Speed and Jeremy Parady, have
    pleaded guilty and may testify against Walsh.
    Authorities have said the men had a variety of different
    motives. Speed, who worked as a security guard at the site, was
    angry at his employer and that wealthy residents were moving into
    the upscale development. In his plea agreement, Parady said he
    targeted Hunters Brooke because most residents are black.
    All five men accused in the crime are white.
    Prosecutors have not said Walsh was driven by race. Instead,
    Sanger said he wanted to gain notoriety for the Family, a group
    that coalesced around a mutual interest in Chevrolet Cavalier cars
    that they raced on southern Maryland roads.
    Purpura said the Family was little more than a group of friends
    who shared an interest in cars and often met at a Waldorf Denny's
    restaurant for late night meals.
    Speed changed his story several times when he was questioned by
    investigators after his arrest, Purpura said, alleging Speed "is
    going to define what a liar is."
    Walsh was at home in nearby Fort Washington working on his
    computer at the time of the fires, the attorney said. Purpura said
    he had evidence from cell phone calls would prove he was not at
    Hunters Brooke.
    "Patrick Walsh is not guilty of this horrific crime," Purpura
    said.
    Early testimony included Terri Rookard, who was asleep with her
    young children in the only occupied house when the fires began.
    Pausing often to gather herself, Rookard described seeing houses
    around her burn fiercely, and the harrowing flight as she and her
    family drove out of the neighborhood to escape.
    "There was fire everywhere," she said. "We didn't know if we
    would make it out."

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    Post August 24th

    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    BALTIMORE (AP) - A prosecution witness who allegedly told
    investigators arson suspect Patrick Walsh had a "big" plan to set
    something on fire to gain notoriety for his gang recanted his
    statements while testifying Wednesday in Walsh's federal trial.
    Michael Gilbert said he was lying when he told investigators
    last December that Walsh had tried to recruit him to take part in
    the plot. Prosecutors have alleged Walsh was the mastermind behind
    more than two dozen house fires at the Hunters Brooke subdivision
    in Indian Head Dec. 6.
    Gilbert was originally charged in the case, but prosecutors
    later dropped the charges. He appeared at Walsh's trial under
    immunity that protected his testimony from prosecution.
    During a roughly eight hour interview Dec. 20 shortly after
    Walsh was arrested, Gilbert allegedly told investigators Walsh told
    him he was planning some sort of fire. The Friday before the
    Hunters Brooke blaze, Walsh told him - "You know something will go
    down and it will probably be Sunday," according to Gilbert's
    statement.
    Gilbert told investigators he did not take part in the fires. In
    court documents filed last year, investigators used Gilbert's
    statements that Walsh headed a gang called "the Family" and that
    the fires were meant to gain attention for the group.
    But on the witness stand, Gilbert said he gave false information
    because his interrogators wouldn't accept it when he claimed he
    didn't know anything about the fires. He said he made up the
    statement because he thought they would let him leave.
    "I was scared, I didn't know what to do," he said. "The truth
    wasn't working, so I figured I'd tell them what they wanted to hear
    and I'd go home."
    Walsh is charged with arson and conspiracy for the fires that
    destroyed ten houses and damaged another 16 at the Charles County
    development. No one was injured but the fires caused $10 million in
    damage. Four other men were indicted and two have pleaded guilty.
    One of those is Aaron Speed, a former security guard at Hunters
    Brooke. As part of his plea agreement, Speed was to testify at
    Walsh's trial. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Sanger said
    Wednesday that Speed would not appear. Jeremy Parady, who also
    pleaded guilty, is expected to testify against Walsh.
    Gilbert was the closest witness to Walsh that prosecutors have
    presented. He was a member of the Family, which he described as
    friends who liked to race cars and hang out at the Denny's
    restaurant in Waldorf.
    Gilbert said the group was "just a close-knit group of friends
    who didn't want any drama in their life." It evolved out of an
    attempt to mimic the Los Angeles gang the Crips, with Family
    members wearing camouflage bandanas as a sign of membership.
    Another of Walsh's friends also testified she alerted Charles
    County police last fall after overhearing Walsh and others
    allegedly plot to set off a bomb on the Gov. Harry Nice Bridge
    connecting Charles County and Virginia. The scheme never carried
    out and it isn't clear if police followed up on the tip.
    Jessie Robinson also said Walsh helped set fire to a car in the
    parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Waldorf.

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    Default

    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    BALTIMORE (AP) - The attorney for Patrick Walsh presented
    evidence Tuesday suggesting the Charles County arson suspect was
    home playing a computer game and surfing the Internet at the time
    the massive blaze was set.
    William Purpura showed the jury in Walsh's federal trial records
    that show the computer in the basement of Walsh's Fort Washington
    home was active around 4 a.m. on Dec. 6, roughly the same time
    investigators believe more than two dozen homes were lit ablaze at
    the Hunters Brooke subdivision in Indian Head.
    Prosecutors have alleged Walsh was the ringleader of a gang
    behind the crime, and charged him with conspiracy and multiple
    counts of arson. His trial began two weeks ago and prosecutors
    rested their case early Tuesday.
    On Friday, one of Walsh's alleged accomplices, Jeremy Parady,
    testified Walsh was at the scene when the group drove to Hunters
    Brooke to set the fires that caused $10 million in damage. Parady
    has pleaded guilty in the case in exchange for leniency when he is
    sentenced.
    But using records from Walsh's America Online account and from a
    British man who runs an online game site, Purpura tried to prove
    the Walsh family computer was being used early Dec. 6.
    The AOL log of activity on the Walsh family's account showed
    someone using Walsh's screen name "HppyPorter" was on AOL
    starting at 2:54 a.m. The session lasted for several hours. Walsh's
    father, mother and sister all testified they were asleep at the
    time.
    Prosecutors pointed out that on other dates, the AOL account was
    active for up to 12 hours at a time, suggesting it may have been
    left on while no one was on the computer.
    But Purpura also showed jurors a videotaped deposition from
    Leeds, England with a British man who runs a game Web site called
    "Night Mist." Jonathan Leighton-Hoggett testified that a log of
    his online game shows someone using the Walsh computer was playing
    around 4 a.m. Dec. 6. The player used Patrick Walsh's password to
    access the game.
    Finally, a computer expert hired by the defense said there were
    two electronic cookies on the Walsh computer. Alex Crain said the
    cookies had been put on the computer by eBay and another Web site
    at the time of the fires, suggesting someone was using it at the
    time.
    Prosecutors have alleged Walsh had computer expertise that
    allowed him to use automation to make it appear the computer was
    being used when he was not there. Despite the computer records,
    none of the witnesses Tuesday were able to confirm it was Walsh
    using the machine, including his family members.

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    Post Update

    Sept. 8. 9 a.m. GREENBELT, MD. - CHARLES FIRES - Michael
    McIntosh Everhart, 21, of Waldorf will be sentenced on charges of
    conspiracy to commit arson in connection with a 2004 fire at the
    Hunter's Brooke development in Charles County.
    Location: U.S. District Court, Greenbelt, 6500 Cherrywood Lane,
    Greenbelt
    Contacts: LeDuc, Vickie E. (Office of the U.S. Attorney for the
    District of Maryland), 410-209-4885
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    Post 9/8/06

    Sentencing today for suspect in Charles County fires

    GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a-m today in
    Greenbelt for one of the defendants convicted of setting the fires
    that damaged homes being built at a Charles County subdivision.
    Twenty-one-year-old Michael Everhart of Waldorf pleaded guilty
    in June to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit arson in the
    December 2004 fires at the Hunter's Brooke development near Indian
    Head.
    Prosecutors say Everhart conspired with four other men to set
    the fires at 35 houses under construction. The homes were not
    occupied at the time of the fires.
    A trial held for Everhart and 23-year-old Roy McCann ended in
    March with a hung jury. McCann pleaded guilty to conspiracy to
    commit arson in August and was scheduled to be sentenced November
    8th
    The other defendants are already serving their sentences.
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  22. #22
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    Thumbs down Not Enough.............

    If my info is correct, He got 4 years, plus additional time on probation, and must make restitution in the amout of $ 3 million. How do you get that kind of money from that kind of person? The economics just don't add up. Looking back at this, one thing, SO FAR, seems to stand out, and that is that Arson is still not taken seriously enough. I don't see any life terms here, but there should be. The magnitude of the operation during the Fire was such that there could have been a serious injury or death to a Firefighter. That fact alone calls for more stringent sentencing.
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    Post

    Fourth Charles fires suspect sentenced to more than three years
    By STEPHEN MANNING
    Associated Press Writer
    GREENBELT, Md. (AP)- A federal judge sentenced a Waldorf man to
    more than three years in prison Friday for his role in the burning
    of a Charles County subdivision - Maryland's largest residential
    arson.
    U.S. District Judge Roger Titus gave Michael Everhart, 21, a
    44-month term for the 2004 fires at the Hunters Brooke development
    in Indian Head. He also ordered Everhart to repay the more than
    $3.27 million in damage caused by the arsons.
    "There is no excuse for what happened," Everhart said in a
    brief and tearful statement in which he apologized to Hunters
    Brooke residents. "I should have known better."
    Everhart is the fourth person of a group of five to be sentenced
    for the fires or attempted fires at 35 houses under construction.
    No one was injured in the Dec. 6, 2004, fires, but the damage
    forced many residents to delay moving into their new homes.
    The arsons unearthed racial tensions in the southern Maryland
    county. Prosecutors say some of the men were angry that most of
    Hunters Brooke's new residents were black. All five men convicted
    in the case are white.
    Thirty-two Hunters Brooke residents later filed a discrimination
    lawsuit against the men. Everhart is named in the suit, but his
    lawyer, William Brennan, said Friday that Everhart was not
    motivated to take part because of race.
    Everhart and Roy McCann were tried earlier this year on arson
    charges, but a jury could not reach a verdict. Both men later
    pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. McCann will be
    sentenced in November.
    Brennan said Everhart was not privy to the planning of the
    arsons and went along without knowing the scope of what was to
    happen that night. Brennan described him as "more of a hanger on,
    more of a follower, a wannabe."
    But Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Sanger said while Everhart did
    not plot the arsons, he did know that he would take part in a
    potentially dangerous crime when he went to Hunters Brooke with the
    other men.
    "He knew it was a fire, and he knew it was a residential
    fire," she said.
    Everhart's sentence is the shortest of the four men sentenced so
    far.
    The group's ringleader, Patrick Walsh, received nearly 20 years
    in prison after being convicted last year of arson. Aaron Speed,
    22, a security guard at Hunters Brooke, pleaded guilty and was
    given a prison term of more than eight years. Jeremy Parady, 21,
    received seven years in prison for his guilty plea.
    While announcing his sentence, Titus noted that Everhart did not
    have a prior record and had behaved well while out on bail before
    his trial.
    But the judge urged the impressionable Everhart not to attach
    himself to other "bad people" while in federal prison.
    "You have been a follower, and you followed some bad people
    doing some very bad things," Titus said.

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