Man Convicted in $10 Million Arson Case in Maryland

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A man was found guilty Friday of masterminding Maryland's largest residential arson, a cluster of fires last December that caused $10 million in damage at a subdivision under construction.

Patrick Walsh, 21, was found guilty in federal court of conspiracy and multiple counts of arson for planning and helping set more than two dozen fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head. No one was hurt, but 10 homes were destroyed and 16 severely damaged.

Each count carries a possible prison term of up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Five men were accused of setting the fires. Two have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, and the other two are scheduled to go on trial early next year.

The jury began deliberations Thursday after hearing closing arguments at the end of the three-week trial. They declined to comment afterward.

Walsh's family members, who sobbed as the verdict was read, also declined to comment. Walsh was led from the court in handcuffs.

Prosecutors painted Walsh as a man fascinated with fire and explosives who plotted and carried out the arson to gain attention for the gang he had formed. One of those who pleaded guilty, Jeremy Parady, testified that Walsh was at Hunters Brooke early Dec. 6 and helped light the fires.

Walsh's defense attorney, William Purpura, argued Walsh was at home playing computer games when the fires were set.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

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