A 23-year-old Waldorf man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to conspiracy to set fire to 35 homes under construction in an upscale Charles County development, becoming the last of five men to be convicted in what authorities called the largest residential arson in state history.
Roy T. McCann pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson in connection with the fires in the Hunters Brooke development in December 2004. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute the drug Ecstasy in the months leading up to the arson.
"The harm suffered by the victims of this horrible tragedy cannot be erased," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said of the fires. "We hope that this guilty plea will give them some comfort, as all of the criminals charged in connection with the Hunters Brooke arson have now been convicted."
McCann, who entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, faces five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the arson conviction and 20 years and a $1 million fine on the drug conviction. He will remain detained until he is sentenced Nov. 8 by Judge Roger W. Titus.
In the early-morning hours of Dec. 6, 2004, McCann and four other men went to the development in Indian Head, poured flammable liquids into drywall buckets, detergent bottles and other large plastic containers and placed them in and around the houses. They also poured accelerants in the entranceways, then used flares, matches and propane torches to start the fires.
The houses were not occupied.
Law enforcement officials said that no single motive could explain the crime. Witnesses and prosecutors said some of the suspects were filled with racist anger at the arrival of minorities to Charles County, while others were obsessed with igniting a blaze that would demonstrate their gang's power.
Three of the suspects have been sentenced. Jeremy Parady, 22, of Accokeek and Aaron Speed, 22, of Waldorf were sentenced to more than seven and eight years in prison, respectively. Patrick Walsh, 22, of Fort Washington was sentenced to 19 1/2 years.
Michael McIntosh Everhart, 21, of Waldorf is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8 and faces five to 20 years in prison.