A 53-year-old man who reportedly confessed to setting a series of dumpster and shed fires in downtown Boulder this summer took a plea deal and was sentenced to probation and jail.
Troy Schneider pleaded guilty remotely in Boulder District Court on Friday to one count of fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony, and was sentenced to two years of probation and 90 days of jail time by Boulder District Judge Norma Sierra.
Schneider, who remains in custody, will be given credit for already serving 85 days in jail.
Prosecutors dropped the original charges of first-degree arson and criminal mischief.
Police said Schneider was tied to a series of four fires on July 3 in the downtown Boulder area: a dumpster fire at 15th and Pearl streets, a mechanical room fire in the 800 block of Pearl Street, a shed fire in the 1300 block of Arapahoe Avenue and another dumpster fire in the 1000 block of Lawry Lane.
Firefighters were able to extinguish all of the fires before they spread and without any injuries.
Surveillance photos were gathered from the scenes of those fires once they were determined to be suspicious. Boulder police then saw Schneider walking in the University Hill neighborhood that night and noticed he matched the description of the suspect in the surveillance images.
According to an arrest affidavit, Schneider, who is homeless, confessed to setting the fires in order to get people to stop following him.
Schneider also confessed to setting a fire in the 900 block of Walnut Street on June 28.
According to police, Schneider on July 3 also tried unsuccessfully to break into a home in the 300 block of Arapahoe Avenue, but was caught on a security tape.
Boulder Deputy District Attorney Mark Grimaldi said the jail sentence would serve to remind Schneider that setting fires, especially given what Colorado and other western states have been going through this summer, puts the community at “serious risk.”
Schneider’s attorney Jessica Hempstead said Schneider was having a mental health crisis at the time, and said the mental health evaluation he would undergo was key to making sure he did not reoffend.
“The mental health is the biggest piece of the puzzle,” she said.
Schneider did not address the court other than to plead guilty to the charge.
Schneider’s booking photo has not yet been released.