Coconino County Attorney David Rozema filed a felony complaint today against Randy Nicholson who is suspected of causing the recent Hardy fire in Flagstaff, AZ. The complaint alleges two counts of felony Criminal Damage, as well as a misdemeanor count for Burning of Wildlands.
“At the outset, it is important to note that Mr. Nicholson is presumed to be innocent of these charges”, said Rozema. “The Hardy Fire destroyed approximately 280 acres of forested land within the Flagstaff City limits. The bulk of this land is privately owned by Little America, with a smaller parcel held in trust for our citizens as State Trust Land. Under these circumstances, there is jurisdiction for State court charges and we have decided to proceed with a felony prosecution in this matter”, continued Rozema.
Count 1 of the Complaint contains a misdemeanor allegation of Burning of Wildlands. The penalties for this crime provide for up to six months in jail and up to $2500 in fines.
Count 2 contains the most serious charge- Criminal Damage of the Little America property in excess of $10,000 as a class 4 felony, with penalties of up to 3.75 years in prison and $150,000 in fines, as well as restitution for the loss. “Although the evidence will establish damages well beyond $10,000, the class 4 felony is the most serious charge available under current Arizona law”, said Rozema.
Count 3 contains an allegation of Criminal Damage of the State Trust Land property as a class 6 felony, with penalties of up to 2 years in prison and $150,000 in fines and restitution.
“In conjunction with the filing of this complaint, the Flagstaff City Attorney’s Office is dismissing its Reckless Burning charge so we can proceed on the felony charges”, said Rozema. Nicholson will have an Initial Appearance on the new charges in the Flagstaff Justice Court in the next 24 hours. “The defendant remains in custody and we will seek a bond on this complaint sufficient to continue to hold him in custody pending resolution of our case”, concluded Rozema.
The County Attorney’s Office will not be making any comment in addition to this press release at this time.