2012-06-14 / Front Page

Former assistant fire chief sentenced

A former assistant fire chief was sentenced June 5 on felony charges that he intentionally set multiple wildland fires in Roscommon County on three separate dates.

According to a press release from the Department of Natural Resources, Howard Leroy, 71, Houghton Lake, former assistant fire chief of the Roscommon Township Fire Department, was sentenced in 34th Circuit Court, Roscommon, to one year in jail and 24 months probation.

He was also ordered to pay $13,091 in restitution and almost $900 in fines, costs and other court assessments.

Leroy had entered guilty pleas on two counts of felony arson of woods and prairies Feb. 16.

The charges stemmed from an investigation initiated by Department of Natural Resources forest fire officers when they noted a trend in certain areas of unexplained, suspicious fires. The fire officers collaborated with DNR conservation officers on the investigation over the last several years, sharing information, collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Detectives from the DNR’s Special Investigations Unit conducted interviews and followed up on many leads. Leroy was originally charged with setting seven fires in Roscommon County. Five counts of wilfully setting fires were dismissed.

“Collaboration between divisions, in these times of limited manpower and resources, is vital to the successful conclusion of complicated cases,” DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said.

“Arson, whether to residential property or wooded land, has extreme costs to the people of this state,” DNR State Forest Fire Supervisor in the Forest Management Division Scott Heather said. “Costs in timber and habitat damage and suppressing the fires, along with the potential for the public or firefighters to be injured, are reasons to fully investigate and prosecute these offenses.”

Arson in Michigan may be reported to the Arson Tip Line at 800-44-ARSON. Tipsters may be eligible for rewards if an arrest or conviction occurs.

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