Former Volunteer Firefighter Pleads Guilty to Concealing Cause of Grass Fires
TOPEKA, KAN. - A former firefighter with the Kickapoo Volunteer Fire Department pleaded guilty Tuesday to concealing the fact that grass fires on the reservation were deliberately set, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said today.
Arlene M. Negonsott, 35, Horton, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a felony. In her plea, she admitted that she did not tell investigators what she knew when they interviewed her about a series of fires on the Kickapoo Reservation in Brown County. She knew that fire chief and co-defendant Stephen D. Ramirez, Jr., arranged for the fires to be set and billed the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Kickapoo Fire Department’s work putting out the fires.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. She faces up to three years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Co-defendant Ramirez is awaiting trial. The U.S. Department of Interior – Office of Inspector General, the Kickapoo Tribal Police and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.