Man Sentenced for Marijuana Operation and Sparking the Nicolls Fire in Sequoia National Forest
FRESNO, Calif. — Edgardo Fournier, aka Edgardo Fournier-Nigaglioni, 46, of Perris, was sentenced today to six years and 10 months in prison for his involvement in a large‑scale marijuana cultivation operation on federal land in Kern County and for his role in starting the Nicolls Fire, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.
In sentencing Fournier, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill ordered Fournier to pay $6,509,329 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service.
According to court documents, from about April 1, 2014 to July 12, 2014, Fournier helped water and tend 2,090 marijuana plants at a grow site in the Smith Canyon area of the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County. He admitted that on July 11 and 12, he lit fires in the vicinity of the grow site within the boundaries of the federally designated Kiavah Wilderness Area. The fires converged and became known as the Nicolls Fire. The Nicolls Fire destroyed about 1,680 acres of public land causing over $6.5 million of damage. The fire did not damage the marijuana cultivation site, which also caused significant damage to the land and natural resources of the forest.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.