TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall told KSN that the former chief of the Kickapoo Tribal Volunteer Fire Department was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of setting fires the tribe was paid to fight.
Another former volunteer firefighter was indicted as well.
Stephen D. Ramirez, 26, Horton, Kan., former chief, and Arlene M. Negonsott, 34, Horton, Kan., are charged with four counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleges Ramirez recruited Negonsott, a volunteer firefighter, to set fires on the Kickapoo Reservation from July to November 2015 that the Kickapoo fire department was called to fight.
The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas contracted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide fire suppression services on the reservation. The contract called for the bureau to pay the tribe $600 for each fire it fought. The indictment alleges the defendants set six fires on the reservation.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The U.S. Department of Interior – Office of Inspector General, the Kickapoo Tribal Police and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger is prosecuting.