Prosecutors: Michigan man set 25 truck fires in 8 states

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan man has been arrested following a federal criminal complaint alleging he set fires to 25 semi-trailers in eight states over a period of more than two years, all owned by the same trucking company, prosecutors said on Wednesday .

Viorel Pricop, 64, of Allen Park, Michigan, was arrested Tuesday morning. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday before the US District Court in Detroit. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak for him.

Pricop faces charges of setting fire to property in interstate commerce, which carries a prison sentence of five to 20 years.

According to an affidavit, 25 Phoenix-based Swift Transportation trailers were set on fire when stopped at gas stations or rest stops from June 2020 through last month. In each case, the fire occurred in or on the trailer portion of the vehicle, primarily at or near the trailer tires.

Pricop was convicted in Michigan in 2018 of transporting stolen goods and was sentenced to two years in prison in an investigation and prosecution in which Swift cooperated, prosecutors said.

A GPS navigator installed on a commercial truck owned and operated by Pricop was present at the fires and a cell phone used by Pricop was present near 24 of the 25 fires, the affidavit said Explanation.

Search warrants executed on Pricop’s vehicle and home last month turned up logs, bills of lading, shipping receipts and other records that matched the locations where the fires occurred, the affidavit said.

The fires occurred in locations from Barstow, California to McCalla, Alabama, with most occurring along Interstates 10 and 40, prosecutors said. Police have learned of six fires in California, three in Arizona, nine in New Mexico, three in Texas and one each in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama. Prosecutors: Michigan man set 25 truck fires in 8 states

Dais Johnston

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