Former firefighter accused of planting explosives near California roadways pleads not guilty

SACRAMENTO, California — A former firefighter with a previous arson conviction has been arrested on suspicion of detonating a homemade bomb and planting several other explosive devices along roadways in two Northern California counties, authorities said.

The 41-year-old man pleaded not guilty last week to multiple charges, including possessing and detonating an explosive with the “intent to injure, intimidate and frighten a person, and to unlawfully injure property and destroy,” said the criminal. complaint.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the man was arrested on Jan. 12 following an investigation by the FBI, the California Highway Patrol and local sheriff’s departments after a series of improvised explosive devices were found along roads and highways in El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Officials did not specify which roads were affected.

In a post on social media, the highway patrol said the man, an Orangevale resident, was arrested following an “intense operation” in which an explosive ordnance disposal team executed “critical search warrants.”

The suspect also faces a special charge due to a prior felony conviction. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to setting at least 30 fires in rural areas east of Sacramento in 2006 and 2007, causing $7 million in damage, the Bee reported. He was sentenced to five years in prison and agreed to pay more than $246,000 in restitution to the state.

He set the fires after serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Diamond Springs Fire Protection District in El Dorado County. He also worked as a seasonal firefighter for Cal Fire from 2001 to 2003, according to the Bee.

The defendant is being held in the El Dorado County Jail and is not eligible for bail, court records show.