Salon Arsonist Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

A Panorama City machinist who pleaded guilty to setting a string of fires at San Fernando Valley beauty and nail salons was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison.

Rickey Jiminez, 33, “has engaged in a pattern of violent conduct and is a danger to society,” said Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Alan B. Haber in ordering the sentence.

Jiminez was charged with setting fires that caused an estimated $1 million in damage to a swimming pool filter company and 10 San Fernando Valley salons, some of which he burglarized.

“Do you have any idea, Mr. Jiminez, how outrageous it is for you to be running around setting fires?” Haber asked. “Maybe you’ll have time to reflect on it . . .” in prison.


A plea bargain with prosecutors called for Jiminez to be sentenced to 12 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to five counts of arson and one count of burglary.

Ended in June

But Haber said the law allows only an 11-year sentence for the offenses, which began in February and ended in June, when Jiminez was arrested as he left the California Nails salon in Van Nuys after setting fire to a couch. Jiminez had been under surveillance after a witness gave police the license number of a car seen leaving the scene of an attempted burglary at another nail salon.

As part of the plea bargain, Haber dropped an additional six counts of arson and five counts of burglary against Jiminez.


Jiminez typically used crowbars to pry open the doors of salons, then stole cash, radios and other small items that he could sell, prosecutors said. He used materials found inside the salon, such as nail polish remover, rags and paper towels, to set fires.

Jiminez selected salons because they were easy to break into and did not have alarm systems, said Tom Capuzano, a city arson investigator.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert P. Imerman said Jiminez told police he committed the burglaries to get money to pay for his girlfriend’s drug habit. But Jiminez did not say why he set fires in some of the salons, Imerman said.

Jiminez was convicted in 1979 of arson in a fire at a San Fernando school.