Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry added another obstruction charge to a Pitkin woman already charged with arson and obstruction of justice, according to LDAF.
Laura C. Mclaughlin was charged with the new count of obstruction on Sept. 28, six days after being arrested on four counts of arson and one count of obstruction of justice.
The charges stem from an investigation of the Union Hill fire off of Louisiana Highway 113 in which 7,000 acres of timber and a home were destroyed. The value of that destruction was more than $2 million. The cost of fighting that fire was about $2.7 million.
On Sept. 28, Mclaughlin was taken into custody in Vernon Parish and taken to the Rapides Parish Jail, where she was booked an then released on $5,000 bond.
"LDAF would like to thank the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in this matter.," according to an LDAF press release.
Mclaughlin faces a fine of up to $50,000 or a prison sentence of up to 20 years or both, according to LDAF. This is in addition to the penalties for the first obstruction charge and four counts of arson.
All persons accused of crimes are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The public is urged to report any and all forestry-related crimes to the LDAF 24-hour hotline at 1-855-452-5323.