- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

A federal grand jury indicted five persons yesterday on charges of arson and attempted arson in the Dec. 6fire at a subdivision near Indian Head, Md., that destroyed or damaged 26 houses, causing an estimated $10 million in damage.

“This is just one step in an ongoing process,” said interim U.S. Attorney Allen F. Loucks, emphasizing that the investigation continues and more indictments are likely. But neither Mr. Loucks nor the other representatives of federal, state and Charles County law-enforcement agencies who gathered at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt offered any insight into motives behind the arson.

Early in the investigation, speculation centered on the theory that the arson had been an act of ecoterrorism, but law-enforcement officials more recently have focused on suspicions that the fires were hate crimes or the actions of a disgruntled employee.

One of the five indicted, Aaron Lee Speed, 21, of Waldorf, was a guard with the security firm hired to watch the Hunters Brooke development in Charles County.

The other four indicted yesterday on charges of arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and aiding and abetting : Patrick S. Walsh, 20, of Fort Washington; Michael M. Everhart, 20, of Waldorf; Jeremy Daniel Parady, 20, of Accokeek; and Roy T. McCann Jr., 22, of Waldorf.

The maximum penalty for arson is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Michael E. Gilbert, 21, of Fort Washington has been charged but was not indicted yesterday.

Previously charged but unindicted is Michael E. Gilbert, 21, of Fort Washington.

Court affidavits indicate that Mr. Walsh was the ringleader and that he began suggesting arson on Aug. 1. He was also the acknowledged leader of the Family, or Unseen Cavaliers, a street racing club.

“They are an organized group of adults,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Sanger, who will prosecute the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy B. Atkins.

The indictments are the first criminal charges filed in 2005 at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Mr. Loucks announced the indictments a few hours after he was sworn, succeeding Thomas DiBiagio.

David McCain, assistant special agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, credited a “strong partnership, a common goal and good, old-fashioned police work.”

Officials at his side said they hope the indictments will bring a sense of relief to the community surrounding the burned-out housing development.

“I personally feel comfortable they are safe,” said Charles County Sheriff Frederick Davis. “Is there a small chance something could happen? Yes.”

The developer has hired several Charles County sheriff’s deputies to patrol the development part time.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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