Ex-police chief convicted in 4 arsons targeting his enemies

BALTIMORE (AP) — A former Maryland police chief was convicted Thursday of intentionally setting fire to buildings belonging to his adversaries, leading various law enforcement agencies on a sprawling investigation that linked a dozen arsons spanning nearly a decade and crisscrossing several counties.

David Crawford, 71, was arrested in March 2021 and charged with over 50 felonies. Following his conviction Thursday, he faces life in prison at sentencing.

Crawford served as police chief of Laurel, a city roughly halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., from 2006 until his resignation in 2010. Before that, he worked for other local law enforcement agencies throughout his career, including in high-ranking positions.

Prosecutors said the arson victims included a former Laurel city official, three former law enforcement officials, a resident of Crawford’s neighborhood, two of his relatives and two chiropractors who had treated him.

Crawford was convicted by a Howard County jury, which found him guilty of eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson and one count of first-degree malicious burning. He’s still facing pending charges in other jurisdictions.

Officials said investigators linked some of the fires in 2020 after discovering Crawford had previous disagreements with the victims. During a January 2021 search of his home, officers found a list of targets.

An attorney representing Crawford didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment Thursday.

Crawford’s conviction pertains to four fires in Howard County that occurred in 2017 and 2018, including two targeting occupied homes. No one was injured in the blazes, which all started in the early morning hours. Surveillance video from some of the scenes showed Crawford using gasoline to start the fires, according to law enforcement.

Prosecutors said Crawford also targeted one of the houses a second time — shortly after renovations had been completed following the first fire.

Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said his office is seeking a maximum sentence for Crawford, which is eight life sentences plus 95 years in prison. Gibson cited Crawford’s long law enforcement career, saying he “should have had a greater degree of respect for the rule of law.”

Regardless, Gibson said in a statement, “today’s verdict is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

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