- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

A federal judge yesterday ordered the man believed to be the ringleader of last month’s Charles County arson fires held without bail until his trial.

U.S. District Judge Roger Titus ruled against a motion filed on behalf of Patrick S. Walsh that he be released on home detention until his May 31 trial.

Mr. Walsh, 20, of Fort Washington, is one of five men indicted on charges related to a series of fires Dec. 6 at the upscale Hunters Brooke development under construction in Indian Head, Md.

Investigators called the fires the largest residential arson in Maryland history. They destroyed or damaged 26 houses, causing an estimated $10 million in damage.

Authorities say the men kicked in the doors of the unoccupied houses, splashed flammable liquids onto the floors and set the buildings on fire.

Judge Titus called the fires “extraordinary in nature, unprecedented in scope,” and said that people could have been injured or killed as a result.

According to federal court records, prosecutors said a search of Mr. Walsh’s home uncovered drawings of a pipe bomb, Molotov cocktails, a homemade gun and other incendiary devices.

Mr. Walsh’s attorney, William Purpura, argued that the drawings were made about four years ago and are not related to the arson case. He denied that his client was the ringleader of the group and said he was not a danger to the community.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Atkins told the judge there was also evidence that Mr. Walsh participated in setting other fires before the fires at the Hunters Brooke development.

Prosecutors also said in court records that Mr. Walsh, who once worked as a pyrotechnician at a Six Flags amusement park, told investigators he had sold the drug Ecstasy and bought two handguns from a friend in October.

Mr. Atkins said the defense request for home detention wouldn’t guarantee sufficient supervision to keep the community safe.

Authorities say Mr. Walsh came up with the plan to set the fires to bring attention to the men’s car club, the Unseen Cavaliers.

Mr. Walsh and four other men were indicted Jan. 3 on charges of arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and aiding and abetting.

The other men are Aaron Lee Speed, 21, of Waldorf; Michael M. Everhart, 20, of Waldorf; Jeremy Daniel Parady, 20, of Accokeek; and Roy T. McCann Jr., 22, of Waldorf.

All five have pleaded not guilty.

Michael E. Gilbert, 21, of Fort Washington has been charged in connection with the crime but not indicted.

Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Everhart, and Mr. McCann were granted home detention.

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

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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