Ex-Babbitt Fire Chief sentenced for arson-related charges

By KBJR News 1

April 10, 2014 Updated Apr 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- The former Babbitt Fire Chief, who pleaded guilty to arson-related charges for setting multiple fires in the Superior National Forest, will spend the next five years behind bars.

30-year-old Ryan Scharber was sentenced Thursday on one count of setting fires on U.S forest land and one count of attempted arson on property in and affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

The courtroom was packed full of supporters for Scharber.

Scharber apologized to the courtroom, saying he accepts full responsibility for setting nine forest fires and one attempted arson fire at a resort in Babbitt from August of 20-11 to September 20-12.

Scharber asked the judge for no prison time, saying a prison sentence would cause more harm for his wife and kids.

Scharber's attorney, Joe Tamburino, argued for a lesser sentence, saying that Scharber did not act with malicious intent when setting the fires.

Assistant U-S Attorney Andrew Dunne said that from 20-10 to 20-12, 39 suspicious fires were being investigated in Babbitt.

Dunn went on to say from the day Scharber was caught, to the day he resigned, up until today at sentencing, have been no arson fires in Babbitt

Dunne said he couldn't think of a more egregious breach of trust by someone who was sworn to protect the community

Scharber's attorney is disappointed in the five year sentence, saying his client is a good person who made a mistake

"People have problems and sometimes they do stupid ill-considered acts. They are still good people. you shouldn't just take someone's life and throw it away because they have done something that's wrong and illegal and hurtful, depending upon the degree of what they did. In this case, Mr. Scharber didn't do anything to hurt anyone," said Joe Tamburino, Scharber's Defense Attorney.

Tamburino says they plan to file an appeal in the next two weeks.
Scharber will have to pay more than $27 thousand dollars in restitution to the DNR, the US Forestry Service and the City of Babbitt.

Scharber will have to turn himself in to authorities on June 2 by 11 a.m.

He has requested to serve his time at the Duluth Federal Prison to be closer to his family, but it remains unknown at this time where exactly he will be.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati