Man faces jail for burning girlfriend’s truck, federal forest.

January 11, 2021

Seth Richards appears in 27th Circuit Court via Zoom video conferencing due to COVID-19.

Man faces jail for burning girlfriend’s truck, federal forest.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A 37-year-old Muskegon man faces serving up to four months in jail after pleading guilty to fourth-degree arson $1,000-$20,000 in 27th Circuit Court Monday, Jan. 11.

“I lit my girlfriend’s truck on fire, and it caught the woods on fire,” said Seth Warren Richards, of 1672 Koonsman Rd.

“Why did you light your girlfriend’s truck on fire?” asked Judge Robert D. Springstead. “I was being stupid. We were arguing,” said Richards, adding that he can’t remember the specific details of the event because he suffers from bipolar and manic depression disorder. 

Oceana County Sheriff’s Office photo of the crime scene.

The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office arrested Richards after he set the truck on fire, July 27, causing a 9.5-acre forest fire in the Huron-Manistee National Forest at Sischo Bayou in Greenwood Township, according to Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast. Several area fire departments responded to the scene to battle the blaze.

He had originally told deputies that the 2002 GMC pickup truck accidentally caught fire following a rollover crash in the area, but he later admitted that he had intentionally started the fire, Sheriff Mast said.

Sentencing guidelines in the case are 0-9 months, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon, and Richards faces up-front jail time not to exceed four months. The US Forest Service may seek restitution for trees that were damaged, which totals $4,500. The victim may seek restitution for the destroyed truck, which was valued at $2,000, Bizon said. 

Judge Springstead said Richards “willfully and maliciously burned the property.” 

Richards is a registered sex offender who was convicted in Muskegon County’s 14th Circuit Court of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC). 

Richards appeared in court via Zoom video conferencing due to COVID-19. He is currently free on bond.

Sentencing is set for March 8 at 10:15 a.m.

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