Former Forest Service Employee and Firefighter Sentenced for Making False Statements in an Arson Investigation
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Paul Leland Johnson, 28, of San Jose, was sentenced today to three years and five months in prison for two counts of making false statements to investigators, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
On May 23, 2017, a jury found that Johnson made false statements that were material in a U.S. Forest Service investigation of a fire that burned Johnson’s Forest Service truck. Johnson, a former Forest Service recreation employee, had checked out his duty truck in February 2012 and driven to a remote location in the Eldorado National Forest. While it was at that location, the Forest Service truck burned in a vehicle fire that spread to the surrounding wild land. Following the fire, Johnson made several statements to law enforcement and arson investigators about his actions in relationship to the fire. At trial, evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that some of Johnson’s statements to investigators were willfully false.
This case was the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Michael D. Anderson prosecuted the case.