FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 3, 2021

A Crawford County man has plead guilty to three counts of arson of lands in the third degree and has been sentenced to 15 years’ probation, $4,500 in fines, plus restitution. Georgia Forestry Commission Law Enforcement Officers charged Matthew DeFore with six counts of arson of lands December 2015, in connection with a series of fires in Crawford County between November 22 and November 29, 2015. Arson of Lands is a felony offense in Georgia, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Investigators began examining suspicious fires in the Lower Hartley Bridge area beginning in May of 2015. Thirty-one arson fires were set in the area between May and December of that year.

“Georgia Forestry Commission personnel worked very closely with a number of partner agencies during the investigation,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Law Enforcement Brian Clavier, “We are pleased that the District Attorney’s Office was able to work out this plea agreement and resolve this case. The Georgia Forestry Commission is grateful for the invaluable assistance provided by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and the Crawford County Fire Department during the Investigation. Georgians can be proud of the way these professionals work together to support law enforcement in our state,” Clavier said.

Arson is the fourth leading cause of wildfires in Georgia and GFC Forestry Investigators have full arrest and enforcement authority in the state. They are specially trained to conduct wildland fire investigations and other forestry related crimes.

If anyone has additional information concerning wildland arson fires, they are asked to contact the Georgia Forestry Commission at 1-800-428-7337, visit GaTrees.org, or email our Law Enforcement Hotline at enforcement@gfc.state.ga.us.

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