Former Maryland volunteer firefighter sentenced in Prince George's County arson cases

A former West Lanham Hills volunteer firefighter was sentenced Monday for his role in a series of arsons that were set several years ago in Prince George's County.

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office said 26-year-old Jeremy Hawkins was sentenced to 15 years each on two counts of the indictment against him with all but time served suspended. Hawkins was also sentenced to three years supervised probation and 120 hours of community service.

Investigators say between December 2019 and January 2020 two men intentionally set fire to multiple vacant structures in Prince George's County to which Hawkins and four other volunteer firefighters then responded to and put out. State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy says the fires were allegedly set at times when the former firefighters would be on duty at the fire station and available to participate in the fire suppression effort.

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Braveboy said the other former firefighters - 19-year-old Nicholas Holzberger, 24-year-old George Smith, 24-year-old Jay St. John and 21-year-old Cole Vazquez - were also sentenced this year. All have been barred from having any involvement with fire suppression activities.

The civilians involved - Giancarolo Reyes and Francis Ortiz Oro - were sentenced in September.

"This is undoubtedly a very disturbing case," Braveboy said. "Our first responders are tasked with protecting us; therefore, to have them conspire to do otherwise is wrong. I am pleased that the former volunteer firefighters and the civilians in this case have taken responsibility and will face the consequences of their actions. This kind of case can destroy the public’s trust; however, I know that the majority of our firefighters are committed, care about this community and are on the job every day to keep our residents safe."