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Press Release

Mulberry Woman Sentenced For Setting Fire In The Ozark National Forrest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Arkansas

Fort Smith, Arkansas - Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Shelly Raye Winfrey, age 47, of Mulberry, was sentenced today to 130 days incarceration, with credit for 130 days served, followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $1,500.00 in restitution on one count of Setting Fire on Lands of The United States. The Honorable Chief Judge P.K. Holmes, III presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.

According to Court records, on April 9, 2017, an off-duty Crawford County Deputy Sheriff and a friend were driving up a dirt road in Franklin County north of Mulberry, Arkansas, when they saw a woman get out of her vehicle, bend over, and then  get  back in  her vehicle and drive off at a high rate of speed. As she left, they saw she had ignited a dead pine tree. The men attempted to extinguish the fire and called the Sheriff’s Office for a local fire department to respond to the scene. The deputy also provided a description of the woman and vehicle. The woman was later identified as Winfrey.

The Mulberry Fire Department arrived and extinguished the fire. The Deputy and friend then continued their journey north and came upon another fire burning approximately one mile from the first fire. They called that fire in and left the area due to concern that they could be trapped by a forest fire. The Mulberry Fire Department extinguished the second fire as well as a third fire that was located further north of the second fire.

During this time, the fire department personnel saw a vehicle that matched the description given by the deputy. A Franklin County Deputy Sheriff arrived, and as he tried to stop the vehicle, the driver and sole occupant, Winfrey, began throwing ignited currency out of the window. Winfrey was taken into custody and transported to the Franklin County Detention Center.

During the investigation it was determined that  Winfrey set fires on land belonging to the United States. Specifically, land belonging to the United States Forest Service known as the Ozark National Forest. Winfrey confirmed and admitted that she illegally set timber on fire on April 9, 2017.

Winfrey was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2017 and entered a guilty plea in December 2017.

This case was investigated by the U.S Forest Service and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hawkins prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated April 4, 2018