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

March 8, 2021

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

Richards appears in 27th Circuit Court via Zoom video conferencing during an earlier hearing.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A 37-year-old Muskegon man was sentenced to serve four months in jail for a conviction of fourth-degree arson $1,000-$20,000 in 27th Circuit Court Monday, March 8.

Seth Warren Richards, of 1672 Koonsman Rd., pleaded guilty, Jan. 11.

“I lit my girlfriend’s truck on fire, and it caught the woods on fire,” Richards said.

“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. Richards told Judge Springstead Monday that he has been taking medications for his mental conditions as prescribed.

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. Richards was also ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution to the US Forest Service as well as $2,000 to the victim for the destroyed truck. 

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 and was ordered to report to the Oceana County Jail by 3 p.m. Monday.

“My client is very regretful of the incident,” said Defense Attorney Ryan Good.

“I just apologize for all the wrong I did, and I won’t make any mistakes anymore,” said Richards.

The judge gave him credit for 14 days served in jail and ordered probation for two years.

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