Grand County seeks harshest penalty possible for man accused of arson
GRANBY — In an unusual step, Grand County commissioners have sent a letter to the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office asking for the harshest prosecution possible for a man facing 24 counts of arson.
The DA’s office charged Christopher Linsmayer, 68, with 12 counts of felony arson and 12 counts of misdemeanor arson after emergency crews responded Oct. 27 to his Grand County home, where they found 12 slash piles with four actively burning.
According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Linsmayer was not on the property when fire crews arrived to extinguish the slash piles, and crews had to hike into the property because an engine couldn’t get near the area due to snow.
Linsmayer repeatedly had been warned not to burn slash on his property out of season, and a letter signed by all three county commissioners is asking the prosecutor to pursue the “strictest charges, punishment and ramifications.”
“It is our hope that whatever consequences Mr. Linsmayer faces from these most recent actions are not only punitive, but are proactive in putting an end to this behavior and associated community threats going forward,” the letter reads.
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Responding to the letter, District Attorney Matt Karzen said he is bound by the law but always tries to ensure an appropriate level of consequences.
“We seek to hit the right balance of accountability given the facts of the law in every case, and that’s exactly what we will do with Mr. Linsmayer,” Karzen said Nov. 17.
Commissioner Kris Manguso explained that the board took the unusual step of reaching out to the DA because Linsmayer’s fires have been an ongoing problem.
The most recent charges came just days after the East Troublesome Fire burned over 100,000 acres in Grand County in a single night.
“Enough is enough,” Manguso said. “What is it going to take to stop this guy?”
Linsmayer faced similar charges last year after burning slash piles on a red flag condition day in August, and he pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Grand County ordinance regarding burn permits. He was sentenced to pay about $1,500 in fines and a $1,000 donation to Mountain Family Center or victim restitution.
Previously, Linsmayer was accused of starting the 2016 Gore Ridge Fire, a 10-acre wildfire that began on Linsmayer’s property and spread to a neighboring property, causing over $100,000 in damage.
An investigation into the Gore Ridge Fire revealed that Linsmayer had burned three or four slash piles larger than allowed by the ordinance. He was not cited for the wildfire but agreed to pay about $190,000 in restitution.
Grand County Sheriff’s Office records also show Linsmayer was cited for a county ordinance violation Nov. 1, 2016. Other reports of inappropriate burning were filed April 7, 2017, and Sept. 16, 2017, but Linsmayer was not cited.
Manguso said county commissioners also directed the county’s building department to red tag Linsmayer’s property, which has not been approved for occupancy.
“He has no respect for Grand County and our laws … so I think we need to do whatever we can do to encourage the DA to give him the severest penalties possible,” she said.
Linsmayer also owns a home just outside of Silverthorne in Summit County. He lists his primary address in Denver. Linsmayer is the husband of Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Linsmayer’s attorney, Jack DiCola, declined to offer comment about the letter. Linsmayer is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 15.
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