Former Juneau resident tied to Tongass fires

A former Juneau resident pled guilty Monday to charges related to an unauthorized burning of timber and failure to maintain control of a fire in the Tongass National Forest.

U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that John H. Shryne, 31, of Olympia, Washington, was arraigned and pled guilty to the charges related to the Jan. 15, 2015 incident.

The court sentenced Shryne to pay a $2,400 fine and carry out a one-year probation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack S. Schmidt, who prosecuted the case, said United States Forest Service (USFS) Law Enforcement officials began investigating a number of tree pitch fires on local hiking trails within the Juneau area. On Jan. 15, a USFS officer observed Shryne entering and leaving the Tolch Rock Trail in the Tongass National Forest. After seeing Shryne and another individual leave, the officer entered the trail and found a tree on fire approximately 100 yards from the trailhead and a few feet from off the trail.

The fire was extinguished and evidence at the scene was collected. On Feb. 13, 2015, USFS Law Enforcement interviewed Shryne and he reportedly admitted to setting the fire at the Tolch Rock Trail on USFS land and admitted to setting several other fires on other trails located within the City and Borough of Juneau.

During sentencing, Judge Leslie C. Longenbaugh noted the seriousness of the offense, as well as the need to address the defendant’s serious substance abuse and mental health issues. Longenbaugh ordered the defendant to obtain a substance abuse and mental health evaluation. Monthly drug testing was also ordered.

The USFS Law Enforcement conducted the investigation leading to the conviction in this case.

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