Arsonist Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Setting 25 Coachella Valley Fires

Arsonist Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Setting 25 Coachella Valley Fires

Martín Di Felice

Indio, CA

A man convicted of setting 25 structures and vehicles ablaze throughout the Coachella Valley over 14 months was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Friday.

Luis Josue Perales, 23, pleaded guilty last month to setting 25 separate fires between Jan. 15, 2015 and March 31, 2016, including setting fire to three occupied buildings, two unoccupied buildings, six vehicles and several other miscellaneous pieces of property, including palm trees and dumpsters. Nineteen of the fires occurred in the city of Indio and nearby areas and six of the fires broke out in Palm Springs.

Perales pleaded guilty to 25 separate arson counts, plus one count of burglary for breaking into a home where one of the fires was set.

Had he been sentenced for all counts consecutively, Perales would have been sent to prison for more than 150 years. However, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold W. Hopp ruled that all the sentences would run concurrent with one count of arson, plus a sentence-enhancing allegation of burning multiple structures.

Perales also faced several other sentence-enhancing allegations of causing fires that burned multiple structures, using a device to accelerate the spread of the fires, and committing arson in areas where the state’s emergency drought regulations were under effect.

County fire investigators, with assistance from the Palm Springs police and fire departments, arrested Perales on the morning of March 31, 2016 on South Palm Canyon Drive, according to Jody Hagemann of the Riverside County Fire Department.