Five Former Maryland Firefighters Indicted for Arson

Lengthy investigation brings indictment for arson against West Lanham firefighters.

West Lanham firefighters allegedly set fires
to occur while on duty

WJLA/ABC7 with permission

UPPER MARLBORO, Maryland (WJLA) – Five Prince George’s County volunteer firefighters have been charged with setting fires in vacant homes.

All five were members of the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department, and the fires were set at times when they were on duty and could respond to the fires, according to State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.

The indictments are the result of an investigation by the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Fire Investigations Division and the Prince George’s County Arson Task Force. It began in January 2020 after fire investigators responded to multiple fires of vacant structures in the central portion of the county.

Those charged are:

26-year-old Jeremy Hawkins of North Potomac, Maryland. Indicted on 14 counts including 1st Degree Arson and multiple Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Arson and Misconduct in Office charges. Arrest warrant was issued. Hawkins was taken into custody on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

19-year-old Nicholas Holzberger of Riverdale, Maryland. Indicted on 10 counts including Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Arson and multiple Misconduct in Office charges.

24-year-old George Smith of Purceville, Virginia. Indicted on 15 counts including 2nd Degree Arson, and multiple Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Misconduct in Office charges.

24-year-old Jay St. John of Centreville, Virginia. Indicted on 13 counts including multiple Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Misconduct in Office charges.

21-year-old Cole Vazquez of Bowie, Maryland. Indicted on 12 counts including 1st Degree Arson and multiple Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Misconduct in Office charges.

The fires were set in late 2019 and early 2020. The details of each are as follows, according to the State’s Attorney’s office:

December 31, 2020 at 12:16 AM in the 6700 block of Cipriano Road in Lanham. A fire was intentionally set in a shed on the property of a vacant house. Property damage was estimated at $5,000.

January 16, 2020 at 2:03 AM in the 6300 block of Sheridan Street in Riverdale. A fire was intentionally set in the kitchen of a vacant house. Property damage was estimated at $150,000. One of the arrested, former firefighter Hawkins, did receive minor burns while extinguishing the fire but did not report his injury at the time to incident command.

January 18, 2020 at 2:04 AM in the 4700 block of 68th Avenue in Landover Hills. A fire was intentionally set inside the kitchen of an unoccupied house for sale. Property damage was estimated at $75,000. A third civilian, 20-year-old Christopher Morales of Hyattsville, MD, was arrested and charged on February 17, 2021, with 1st Degree Arson, 2nd Degree Arson, and Malicious Destruction charges for his alleged involvement in this fire.

January 20, 2020 at 1:50 AM in the 9500 block of Wellington Street in Lanham.

A fire was intentionally set in the kitchen of an unoccupied house for sale. Property damage was estimated at $30,000.

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