Accused firefighter impersonator pleads not guilty in Jefferson County

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The man accused of impersonating a firefighter during the Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County has pleaded not guilty to several related crimes.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's office said Michael Maher pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of theft, criminal impersonation and impersonating a public servant.

During the Lower North Fork Fire in March, a "firefighter" was issued a chainsaw, two Pulaski firefighting tools, a portable radio, a portable fire shelter, goggles, MREs -- or meals ready to eat -- and other items. At the conclusion of the fire, the items, valued at $2,400, remained unaccounted for, said Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jacki Kelley.

A theft report was taken in April by the sheriff's office.

When Maher, 30, was arrested at the High Park Fire on June 18, four portable radios were found insidehis truck, Kelley said. One of the radios had been stolen from the Lower North Fork Fire.

The next day, Jefferson County investigators searched Maher's home and recovered the stolen chainsaw, the Pulaski tools and multiple MREs that were issued to him at the Lower North Fork Fire, Kelley said.

Also recovered at his home were several fire-resistant Nomex pants and shirts, miscellaneous U.S. Forest Service clothing, a USFS qualification card and a red-and-blue light bar typically used on emergency vehicles, Kelley said.

Maher is also accused of crimes related to impersonating a firefighter during the High Park Fire. He scheduled to go to trial in Larimer County on May 6 on the charges of attempting to influence a public servant, theft of more than $1,000 and criminal impersonation.

So far, no date has been set for Maher's return to Jefferson County court.