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Press Release

Former Columbia, Kentucky Woman Sentenced To 10 Years For Arson Resulting In The Death Of A Firefighter

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

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A former Columbia, Kentucky, woman was sentenced today by United States District Judge Greg Stivers to 121 months of imprisonment on charges of arson and insurance fraud.  The arson, which completely destroyed the defendant’s rental home and was set by her then boyfriend in order to collect on a $50,000 rental insurance policy, killed a Columbia/Adair County Volunteer Firefighter who was fighting the fire.

Steve Allen “Boo” Pritchard, 44, of Columbia, Kentucky, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on October 31, 2018. Brandi Pritchard, Steve Pritchard’s co-defendant and then girlfriend, purchased a $50,000 renter’s insurance policy on June 24, 2011; shortly thereafter Pritchard hatched a plan with his girlfriend, co-defendant Brandi Pritchard, to set fire to their Columbia rental home during the early morning hours of June 30, 2011.  The Adair County Fire Department arrived on scene at approximately 3:12am.  While fighting the fire, Volunteer Fireman Charles Sparks suffered cardiac arrest on the second floor of the home.  He was rushed to the hospital but never regained consciousness and died eight days later on July 8, 2011, at the age of 49.  In addition to serving as a firefighter, Sparks was also a longtime Kentucky State Fire Marshall.  Mr. Sparks was survived by both of his parents, his wife, and his son. 

At trial, “Boo” Pritchard provided an alibi that he was in Louisville delivering glass for his employer during the fire.  However, his alibi was disproved by cell phone location data obtained by the FBI.  Several witnesses also testified that Pritchard had bragged about starting the fires to collect on the insurance policy.  It was also established at trial that Pritchard had been involved in setting four previous fires to collect insurance proceeds, one of which was Pritchard setting fire to his own car.

Brandi Pritchard pleaded guilty to both charges in a plea agreement on May 2, 2017.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Weiser and Nute Bonner and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kentucky State Police.

Updated November 14, 2018