One of the men accused of setting a series of fires at an upscale housing development under construction in the Washington suburbs two years ago has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.
Michael McIntosh Everhart, 21, of Waldorf, will be sentenced Sept. 8, federal prosecutors said in a release. He faces at least five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The trial of Everhart and Roy McCann, 23, ended in a hung jury in March. The two were the last of five men to face court action for the Dec. 6, 2004 fires at Hunters Brooke in Indian Head. The group was accused of setting fire to two dozen house at various stages of completion and tried to torch another 11 in what was Maryland’s worst case of residential arson.
The ringleader, Patrick Walsh, 21, was convicted last year and sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison. Aaron Speed, 22, a security guard at Hunters Brooke, pleaded guilty and was given a prison term of more than eight years. Jeremy Parady, 21, received seven years in prison for his guilty plea. McCann goes on trial in June 2007.
Authorities say a variety of motives were behind the blazes, including Walsh’s desire to gain fame for his street racing gang and anger by some defendants that most of the Hunters Brooke residents were black. In November, 32 Hunters Brooke residents filed a discrimination lawsuit against the five men, all of whom are white.
The fires, set early in the morning, caused more than $3.2 million worth of damage and delayed by months the plans of families to move into their new homes. No one was injured, but a family living nearby was forced to drive through flames to escape.
Everhart had claimed he went to the scene with the group, but left before any fires were set. His attorney, William Brennan, did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
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