Firefighter pleads guilty to setting fires on Indian lands

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Raymond Neal Swayney, 31, of Cherokee, N.C. pleaded guilty to intentionally setting fires on Indian lands, according to the US Attorney’s office.

They say the temporary firefighter, paid hourly to fight unexpected fire emergencies, was setting wildland fires on the reservation.

According to court documents, between March 5, 2010 and February 25, 2014, Swayney and others intentionally set seven fires, which destroyed more than 420 acres of tribal lands and cost over $106,661.98 in Bureau of Indian Affairs funds to extinguish.

Swayney pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to set timber afire and to defraud the United States.

The charge carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine.

Swayney is being held pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set yet.

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