Michigan trucker guilty of setting Swift Transportation trailers on fire


A Michigan truck driver accused of being a serial arsonist responsible for setting blazes across the country has been found guilty in California for setting Swift Transportation equipment on fire as part of a personal vendetta against the company.
Jurors on Tuesday found Viorel Pricop, 66, of Allen Park in metropolitan Detroit, guilty of six counts of arson of vehicle or property in interstate commerce after a 16-day trial. Investigators said Pricop, who was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in December 2022, set fire to at least 24 semi-trailers belonging to Swift Transportation in eight states after he was convicted in 2018 for transporting stolen cargo. That earlier case stemmed from an investigation conducted by Swift.
The California fires occurred in San Bernardino and Riverside counties from December 2021 to September 2022, prosecutors said. Pricop is accused of setting the other fires in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, mostly along Interstates 10 and 40 from June 2020 to March 2022, charging documents say. Drivers were sometimes asleep in their trucks when the fires were set, but no injuries were reported. Pricop faces federal charges in other states.
Swift Transportation, based in Arizona, told investigators this number of fires had never occurred in company history, prompting company officials to hire fire investigation consultants to determine the cause. Investigators uncovered a pattern of similar methods used to light the trailers on fire, including where the fires began on the vehicles and the times they were set, prosecutors said.



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