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Son of Police Chief Admits Setting 5,000-Acre Blaze

November 12, 1987

Saying he was intoxicated on beer and marijuana at the time, the 19-year-old son of the Cypress police chief has pleaded guilty to setting a 5,000-acre fire Sept. 9 in the Cleveland National Forest.

U.S. District Judge James M. Ideman told Robert Edward Lowenberg on Tuesday that he faces a minimum of one year and a maximum of 10 years in prison, plus a possible $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 11.

It took 1,100 firefighters nearly two weeks to control the fire at a cost of about $2.2 million, according to court records. At least seven firefighters were injured.

Lowenberg's parents, Ronald and Kitty Lowenberg, sat together in the back of the courtroom Tuesday, looking pained as their son, the oldest of their six children, entered his plea.

He pleaded guilty to one count of willfully destroying government property. The U.S. attorney's office dismissed two other charges.

Neither Lowenberg nor his parents would comment after the Los Angeles court session. Lowenberg's attorney, Anna Ho, also refused to comment on the plea.

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