Man pleads guilty to setting fires

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

District Attorney Warren Montgomery said that Herman A. Thomas, 44, of Bogalusa, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of aggravated arson and eight counts of simple arson, for igniting a series of fires in Bogalusa over two years.

According to a press release from Montgomery’s office, District Judge William “Rusty” Knight sentenced Thomas to six years in prison with four of the years suspended on the aggravated arson charge and two years on each of the simple arson charges. The two years are to be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

This case drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal, after a series of eight mysterious fires were set in Bogalusa between July of 2016 and November of 2017. The last fire was set on Nov. 8, 2017, in a vehicle next to a home on Adams Street.

The home owner was sitting on her front porch with friends, when Thomas walked up and told them that he had seen “a couple of black males” trying to steal something from the vehicle the night before. When Thomas walked to the car with another male, they found the car filled with smoke, and burning newspaper was removed from underneath the seat.

Investigators determined the fire to be arson and zeroed in on Thomas as a suspect. When they interviewed him about the arson, he admitted setting the Adams Street fire, as well as the seven others.

Thomas was scheduled for an arraignment hearing in court Monday, when he unexpectedly pleaded guilty.