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Pyro-Fire Chief Update

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Now He Says the Devil Made Him Do It

THE LAST TIME WE HEARD FROM RYAN SCHARBER, the former fire chief of Babbitt, Minnesota, he had been arrested in October and charged with setting several fires, most of them on National Parks land but including an attempted arson at a privately-owned resort.  See the Firegeezer report from October 16 HERE.

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A month later on November 22, following s lengthy interrogation in which he confessed to setting nine fires over a 13-month period, Scharber pled guilty to two counts, setting one fire on U.S. forest land in the Superior National Forest and attempted arson of a building at Mattila’s Birch Lake Resort in Babbitt.  During that time span there were 39 arsons in the area, but none have occurred since Scharber’s arrest.  During the investigation he was legally diagnosed as being a pyromaniac.

The sentencing guidelines call for a 5-year prison sentence, but now the defense attorney had played an attempt to get even that reduced.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting:

The former fire chief of Babbitt, Minn., who is awaiting sentencing for setting a series of fires in the Superior National Forest, has been diagnosed as a pyromaniac, according to a prosecutor quoted in a document filed Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis.

Ryan G. Scharber, 30, who resigned as chief of the St. Louis County community’s volunteer fire department in December 2012, should be given a five-year sentence, based on federal sentencing guidelines, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dunne argued in the memorandum. Scharber’s attorney is seeking a downward departure from that sentence.

In the memorandum, Dunne disputed Scharber’s contention, contained in a presentence report, that he set the fires “to get out of the house for a few hours to get relief from his newborn child’s acid reflux.” The prosecutor said Scharber never offered that excuse during an interview with investigators in which he eventually confessed.

He will be sentenced on April 10.

The Star-Tribune has more information and details HERE.

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