Man who faced arson charge pleads guilty to burn ordinance violations
Despite the testimonies of several concerned neighbors and a history of leaving fires unattended, a Grand County judge agreed to a plea agreement for a Silverthorne man who faced an arson charge from earlier this year.
Christopher Linsmayer, a resident of the Gorewood neighborhood roughly eight miles west of Kremmling and husband of Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Grand County ordinance regarding burn permits at his sentencing on Monday.
Previously, Linsmayer faced a fourth degree arson charge for an Aug. 23 incident in which he burned a slash pile out of season on his property on a Red Flag warning day. His plea agreement lowered the charges to two county ordinance violations, which are petty offenses.
He faces roughly $1,500 in fines and must make a $1,000 donation to Mountain Family Center or pay victim restitution. County Court Judge Nicholas Catanzarite accepted the plea agreement.
However, the August incident isn’t the first time Linsmayer’s burning habits have been concerning. His history with lighting fires in the county goes back to at least 2016, when a 10 acre wildfire, known as the Gore Ridge Fire, started on Linsmayer’s property and spread to a neighboring property, causing over $100,000 in damage.
An investigation of the Gore Ridge Fire revealed that Linsmayer had been burning three or four slash piles that were larger than allowed by ordinance. Linsmayer was not cited for the wildfire, but he did agree to pay Grand County roughly $190,000 for fire suppression efforts and restitution to his neighbor, Henry Meier.
According to the sheriff’s office, Linsmayer was cited for a county ordinance violation on Nov. 1, 2016 and other reports of inappropriate burning were filed on April 7, 2017, and on Sept. 16, 2017, but Linsmayer was not cited.
Due to past events, multiple neighbors spoke in person at Linsmayer’s sentencing or sent in letters requesting the most serious consequences for his actions.
“We fear for our lives and that of our property because this individual has been allowed to repeatedly commit the same acts of arson with no punishment,” one neighbor’s letter said. “We do not trust that (Linsmayer) will exercise common sense or follow the law if he gets another slap on the wrist.”
Prosecutor Kathryn Dowdell also spoke to the community frustration caused by Linsmayer’s actions, but noted she can’t prosecute him for past behavior and hopes the maximum penalties for violating the county burn ordinance would get through to Linsmayer.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going on with (Linsmayer),” Dowdell told the judge on Monday. “Hopefully, this sends the message that (he) will be prosecuted now.”
Linsmayer’s attorney, Jack DiCola, said his client means well, but has definitely made mistakes in the past.
“I think that he understands that he shouldn’t be doing any more burning up there, hopefully, he does,” DiCola said. “The people are exacting the maximum penalties under this ordinance and they are also having him make a $1,000 donation, which is not chicken feed.”
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