Former firefighter under heat for starting fires
BATON ROUGE - A former volunteer firefighter pleaded guilty to three counts of simple arson Wednesday.
Beauregard Parish sheriff's deputies arrested Brandon Harris, 26, of Longville, in February after a month-long investigation by the district attorney's office and the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
According to court documents, Harris was sentenced to five years of hard labor for each count. The sentences will run concurrently and with credit for time served, four years could be suspended. Upon release, Harris will be placed on supervised probation for three years.
"It is important that we see these arrests and court cases through to the very end. This individual was supposed to protect the public and instead acted irresponsibly and chose to do something criminal. That's unacceptable in my book," said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
Investigators say Harris admitted to setting wildfires in wooded areas south of DeRidder while working for Beauregard Parish Broadlands Fire Station. Harris said he did it to receive payment for fighting the fires and for the thrill of fighting fires.
According to officials, Harris will be registered as an arsonist and pay over $12,000 in restitution and court fees.