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A Salt Lake City man has pleaded guilty to torching his car on public lands in Tooele County as part of a fundraising pitch to avoid foreclosure on his house.

Jill Silvey, Salt Lake Field Office manager for the federal Bureau of Land Management, said John Maxim recently entered the guilty pleas to misdemeanor counts of creating a hazard and a nuisance and causing a fire other than a campfire.

A 3rd District Court judge in Tooele fined Maxim $1,000 and ordered him to pay more than $2,400 in restitution to the BLM for firefighting and towing costs.

Silvey said Maxim had raised money on the Internet in an attempt to save his home. The payoff for contributors was his promise, in September 2010, to burn his car in the Lone Rock area of western Utah's Skull Valley. He raised $15,000 with the scheme.

"It is never OK to ignite a fire other than a campfire on public lands," Silvey said Wednesday. "Actions are subject to consequences. Intentionally setting fire to a vehicle for a fundraising stunt causes quantifiable damage for recreationists, wildlife and vegetation on public lands."

Silvey said this was the second time Maxim had run into trouble with BLM over "creating a hazard on public lands." In June 2009, he held a large party at the same site, inviting his guests to toss old furniture and electronics into a bonfire, she said.

Bob Mims

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