Fire-Setting UC-Irvine ProfessorSentenced To More Than 14 Years in Prison (UPDATE)


Rainer Reinscheid, a 49-year-old pharmaceutical sciences professor at the University of California-Irvine, has been given a 14-year prison sentence Thursday for committing arson. Prosecutors actually wanted to impose a maximum sentence of 18 years for the German national.

Judge Gregg L. Prickett said that he will serve about half that time with credits for time served and good behavior.

Reinscheid, an Irvine resident, was accused of setting a series of fires at his teenage son's high school in Irvine; at the assistant principal's home and at a nearby park after the boy committed suicide.

Reinscheid's 14-year-old son hanged himself at the park last year after he was punished by the school administrator for allegedly stealing from the school store.

He pleaded guilty in July to six counts of arson, three counts of attempted arson and resisting and obstructing an officer, claiming that he committed acts which he normally wouldn't dare to as he was grief-stricken.

He also apologized repeatedly and urged for a lesser sentence.

"I lost my son, and then I lost myself," Reinscheid told the court. "Now, I am asking you, your honor, and many other people, to forgive me and show mercy."

Private e-mails seized from Reinscheid's account revealed a graphic plan to attack the boy's school. The e-mails addressed to himself and his wife detailed a plan to purchase machine guns to attack the high school campus and shoot students, commit sexual assaults and burn down the school before killing himself.

No charges were filed related to those emails.

"He's been through a lot and it's a tragedy," said Dan Leib, his attorney. "Being locked up for a year, he's been able to reflect and think about things and deal with his grief."

During the hearing, Reinscheid said that he wish to return to Germany and work there to support his family as his academic career is over.

Currently, he is on unpaid leave from UC Irvine. Reinscheid has been working at UC Irvine for about 12 years researching molecular pharmacology and psychiatric disorders and studying schizophrenia, stress, emotional behavior and sleep.

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