On Friday, James Bishop of Pittsburg was sentenced to 19 years in state prison after he was convicted of 31 arson related felonies by a Contra Costa County jury in 2018.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office asked for the maximum sentence under the law given the threat Bishop posed to the public. Bishop was sentenced by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Laurel Brady.
In the jury trial, begun in November 2018 in Contra Costa County Superior Court, Bishop was charged with 33 felony counts involving arson of an inhabited structure, arson of property, and the possession and use of an accelerant. Some 45 fires were examined over the course of the investigation with 14 of these resulting in the charges in the case.
In the early months of 2017, the Con Fire FIU began noticing similarities in separate, unexplained vehicle fires throughout Contra Costa County, determining the vehicle fires were likely the result of a serial arsonist. These fires were set, in most cases, in vehicles adjacent to homes and, in one noteworthy case, in a vehicle immediately below the bedroom of sleeping children.
The arson task force contributing to arrest and conviction of Bishop also included the Concord Police Department, the Lafayette Police Department, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab, California Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies. Neighbors also provided crucial evidence to Con Fire investigators, in several instances sharing surveillance videos that captured a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity at the time of the fires.
- Dec. 6, 2018: Arsonist Found Guilty on 31 Counts in 2017 Arson Fires, Awaits Sentencing
- May 17, 2017: Contra Costa County Fire Investigators Identify Suspect in String of Arson’s
- May 13, 2017: Pittsburg Man Arrested in String of Vehicle Fires, Faces 43 Arson Charges
- May 12, 2017: Arsonist Strikes Two More Contra Costa Vehicles Overnight
- May 11, 2017: Brentwood Hit With Possible Arsonist After Pair of Early Morning Car Fires