Suspects Plead Not Guilty In Maryland Housing Development Fires

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) -- Five of the six suspects in the Dec. 6 arsons at an upscale housing development under construction in suburban Washington pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday in federal court.

Michael Everhart, Roy McCann, Jeremy Parady, Aaron Speed and Patrick Walsh are charged with the arsons that caused $10 million damage near Indian Head, Md. Those fires have been described as the largest residential arsons in state history, either destroying or causing substantial damage to more than two dozen houses at various stages of construction.

The men, all in their 20s and from working class families in the area, allegedly were members of a local group variously called the Unseen Cavaliers or ``The Family,'' that shared a mutual interest in drag racing. Prosecutors claim the fires were set either to gain notoriety for the group or out of revenge. One suspect, Speed, worked as a security guard at the construction site and felt slighted by his employers when his infant died last year. Another suspect, Parady, had applied for a job there and been rejected.

A sixth suspect, Michael Gilbert, has yet to be indicted. He was released from federal custody Monday and is in home detention.

Along with Gilbert, a federal magistrate has ordered home detention for Everhart and McCann. McCann has not been released from custody because a suitable home has not been found for him to live in while he awaits trial.