Man Charged With 2019 Eagle Rock Brush Fire is Granted Diversion Program

Column of fire on the water surface, on the border with the earth

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A 28-year-old man charged with arson and other counts stemming from an August 2019 brush fire that burned 45 acres in Eagle Rock and forced the closure of portions of two area freeways was granted a mental health diversion program today that could eventually result in the dismissal of the case.

Daniel Michael Nogueira was charged last March with one felony count each of use of a destructive device and explosive to injure or destroy and arson of a structure or forest, along with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon involving a ``firework mortar'' involving two alleged victims, according to the criminal complaint filed March 22.

It took firefighters two days to fully contain the wildfire, which wound up jumping the Ventura (134) Freeway and threatened some homes, although none ultimately burned. The blaze sent a large plume of smoke visible across the basin, and forced the closure of stretches of the 134 and Glendale (2) freeways.

Authorities said the fire started near a homeless encampment adjacent to the Glendale Freeway.

Two people at the encampment suffered minor injuries, and a firefighter was hurt while fighting the blaze, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Nogueira -- who lived in Eagle Rock at the time -- was arrested by Los Angeles Police Department detectives less than a week after the Aug. 25, 2019, blaze, authorities said. Jail records show that he was subsequently freed on $1 million bail the day after his arrest.

He was subsequently freed on his own recognizance with the conditions that he not own or use any type of destructive devices and not stop or loiter near any homeless encampments.

Defense attorney Alan Jackson told Superior Court Judge Kerry White that his client has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the prosecution objected to the request for the diversion program, the Los Angeles Times reported.

``I'm very pleased with the court's decision as it will allow Mr. Nogueira the opportunity to get the help he clearly needs,'' Jackson said in a statement after the hearing.

The defense attorney noted that ``this result reflects exactly what the legislature intended'' when it passed a state law allowing defendants in some criminal cases to undergo mental health treatment and for criminal charges to be dismissed if a defendant performs satisfactorily in the diversion program.

``This decision protects the community, and it provides needed resources for Mr. Nogueira,'' Jackson added in the statement.

The terms of the diversion program are set to be detailed at a May 13 hearing.

Nogueira could have faced up to 10 years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

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