Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 27, 2012

Former firefighter to be back in court

TAHLEQUAH — A former wildlands firefighter will be back in Cherokee County District Court May 2 on arson charges.

Mike Adam Malenski is facing 41 felony counts of third-degree arson, 15 felony counts of fourth-degree arson, and 56 counts of endangering the life of others during the commission of arson.

He allegedly set fires in the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area while he was working as a firefighter for the Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Malenski was set for a court appearance this week to act on a plea agreement with prosecutors, but the appearance was passed because Malenski’s defense attorney was in Tulsa County. Prosecutors objected to moving the court date, records show.

Investigators say they developed Malenski as a suspect in numerous fires and used a tracking device on Malenski’s work vehicle. Malenski was allegedly on duty when the fires were set, and always responded to them. He was typically the first person to arrive at the scene of the fires.

Court documents show Malenski told investigators setting the fires was his way to “escape.” Fires burned about 10,000 acres in the wildlife area in 2010 and 2011.

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