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Truck driver who “maliciously” torched Swift trailers sentenced to 10 years

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A truck driver convicted of “maliciously” setting fire to multiple Swift Transportation trailers has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison for the crime. 

66-year-old Viorel Pricop was convicted of six counts of arson of vehicle or property in interstate commerce on March 12th after setting fire to six trailers at five different locations in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California between December 2021 and September 2022. Pricop was sentenced to 10 years and 1 month in prison on Friday, June 7th. Pricop was also ordered to pay almost $650,000 in restitution as part of his sentencing. 

In addition to the burned trailers accounted for in his conviction, Pricop set fire to at least 18 other Swift trailers from California to Alabama, mostly along Interstates 10 and 40. He is facing additional charges in New Mexico and Arizona, reported KTLA.

In 2018, Pricop was previously convicted in connection to thefts of items from Swift trailers after being tracked through a “bait trailer” loaded with electronics. 

“Swift investigators tracked those boxes to a storage facility in Michigan, and local law enforcement in Michigan arrested Pricop in possession of the boxes of electronic goods from the bait trailer,” a release regarding the thefts stated. 

Pricop was sentenced to 26 months in prison for the thefts, but was freed from supervised release “in June 2019, approximately one year before the arsons in this case began.”

“This defendant was given a second chance but chose to throw it away and go on a national campaign of revenge,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “By setting fire to trailer after trailer with the drivers inside the trucks, he recklessly put people’s lives at risk. Violent recidivist criminals such as this defendant will only be deterred with consequences and the sentence imposed today does just that.”

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