Ryan Sidney Jackson Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on July 28, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, RYAN SIDNEY JACKSON, a 23-year-old resident of Wolf Point, pled guilty to arson/aiding and abetting. Sentencing has been set for November 1, 2010. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On September 9, 2007, JACKSON and a multitude of other juveniles and young adults were attending a party at a house near Wolf Point, within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The house belonged to a family that was in the process of moving from the Wolf Point area to Great Falls, however no members of that family were present during the party.
During the course of the party, people began vandalizing the house and removing property from the house and outbuildings. At the end of the night, JACKSON and another person set fire to the house and burned it down.
Many of the party-goers were interviewed during the investigation, as was JACKSON. Some of those witnesses were initially untruthful about the fire, including JACKSON. However, during subsequent interviews, several witnesses told law enforcement that they either saw JACKSON and one other person start fires in the house, heard JACKSON and the other person talk about "torching" the house, or both.
When JACKSON was interviewed a second time, on September 15, 2009, he stated that he and others were responsible for burning down the house. Specifically, JACKSON admitted to placing egg cartons on a stove in the downstairs kitchen and starting them on fire. He also said that he put that fire out before leaving the party and that he saw someone else start a fire upstairs with a can of gasoline and other cans.
A deputy state fire marshal conducted an origin and cause investigation at the scene the day after the party. He concluded that the house was a total loss and noted that some areas were still smoking and releasing heat. However, the deputy marshal was unable to determine the precise location of the fire or fires and unable to draw any conclusion about which fire may have destroyed the house.
JACKSON faces possible penalties of 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.