A 51-year-old man charged with setting the rapidly expanding Holy Fire, which has blackened 9,614 acres of the Cleveland National Forest and was only 5 percent contained, had a rocky relationship with his family, according to court records obtained Thursday.
Forrest Gordon Clark, who refused to come out of his jail cell Thursday for his arraignment, was scheduled to return to court on Friday, prosecutors said.
Clark was charged Thursday with aggravated arson damaging at least five inhabited structures, arson of inhabited property, arson of forest and criminal threats, all felonies, as well as two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, according to Assistant District Attorney Chris Duff. Clark could face 10 years to life in prison. He also faces sentencing enhancements for arson of multiple structures.
Clark reacted abrasively when investigators went to question him, claiming they were not allowed on his property in Holy Jim Canyon, the fire’s flashpoint, Duff said. He also was accused of threatening his neighbors, Duff said.
In 2012, Clark was accused by his mother and brother of threatening them, according to restraining orders both sought against him. The brother’s restraining order request was denied and his mother a couple of months later dropped her temporary restraining order.
Clark’s mother, Mary Masayo Clark, who was 87 at the time, sought a restraining order at the end of January in 2012. She also sought to get one of her son’s friends off her property.
Upset about a damaged lock, her son demanded $300 from his mother, she said.
“He threatened to damage the house if he didn’t get the $300,” she wrote. “He carried out his threat by smashing the potted plants on my front patio.”
She also claimed, “He has a history of getting money from me,” including $10,000 for his mortgage, $4,000 for a “sprinkler system he never installed,” $6,000 for “loss of property” when his brother threw out some of his “debris” on her property in Irvine.
She also claimed he had her sign over power of attorney to him, something she considered a “mistake” that “cost me $1,300 to have my attorney straighten out.”
She said her son “abuses me verbally by telling me that my daughters Louann and April are not my daughters because they are adopted. He tells me that they do not love me and do not come to visit. This is not true.”
Clark’s brother, Everett Clark Jr., said his brother threw out his medication, which he needs to take twice a day.
“He slashed my shoes with his knife,” Everett Clark said.
His brother also said the defendant attacked him physically multiple times.
“He yelled obscenities at me,” Everett Clark said. “He left bruises on my right foot and both of my arms.”
On another occasion, “He has spit in my face five times while yelling obscenities,” Everett Clark said, adding another time his brother slapped his glasses off.
“He threatens to sue me, put me in prison, put me in a mental hospital for the rest of my life,” Everett Clark said.
The defendant also allegedly “threatened to shoot” his brother’s dog, which he called a “waste of money,” Everett Clark said.