Indictment: Tribal Fire Chief Set Grass Fires Department Was Paid to Fight
TOPEKA, KAN. - The former chief of the Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of setting fires the tribe was paid to fight, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said. Also indicted was a former volunteer firefighter.
Stephen D. Ramirez, 26, Horton, Kan., former chief, and Arlene M. Negonsott, 34, Horton, Kan., are charged with four counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleges Ramirez recruited Negonsott, a volunteer firefighter, to set fires on the Kickapoo Reservation from July to November 2015 that the Kickapoo fire department was called to fight.
The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas contracted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide fire suppression services on the reservation. The contract called for the bureau to pay the tribe $600 for each fire it fought. The indictment alleges the defendants set six fires on the reservation.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. 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.