A year-long investigation by Cal Fire, featuring GPS trackers, hidden cameras and a specialized task force, ended with charges against a man accused of setting several wildland fires in San Diego's East County, prosecutors confirmed to NBC7.
Jonathan Cohen pleaded not guilty to setting at least five arson fires in the past year.
At his readiness hearing, prosecutors linked Cohen to fires on Wildcat Canyon Road in Lakeside, a small fire along Lake Wohlford Road near Guejito Road on Oct. 24, an April 19 fire along Lake Wohlford, and a June fire along State Route 67 in Lakeside, prosecutors said.
“Arson always has the potential especially when it comes to Wildland fires during a drought to spread and become much larger than the fires in this case were so we are happy that none of the fires spread to be considered majorly out of control,” said Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar in court.
Prosecutors said GPS tracking and surveillance cameras placed Cohen near the ignition points of the fires. The defense, however, said it is waiting to see the evidence.
“Mr. Cohen still has the right to a fair and unbiased jury pool and for people not to jump to conclusions until there has been some evidence presented and there has been none," said David Thompson, Cohen’s public defender.
Cohen will be back in court on August 11 for his preliminary hearing. If convicted, he could face 11 years in prison.