Former American University Professor David Pitts Pleads Guilty to Setting Several Small Fires Near Campus

A former American University professor and department chair pleaded guilty this week to setting several small fires in a neighborhood near campus last year. 

Pitts was accused of setting a chair and bottles on fire during the early morning hours of Sept. 4 in an office complex garage in the 3300 block of New Mexico Avenue NW. Police say Pitts then walked to another part of the complex and set some newspapers on fire.

He then walked to a wooded area and set another fire, police said. Documents say Pitts then made his way to an office building on New Mexico Avenue where he had intended to steal prescription medication, controlled substances and prescription pads. 

When officers searched Pitts' home they found more than 5,300 prescription pills, blank prescription pads from at least nine different doctors and other items.

Pitts could face up to 15 years in prison for burglary charges and up to 10 years for identity theft charges.  

Pitts holds a doctorate degree from the University of Georgia, and had served as the chair of AU's Department of Public Administration and Policy.

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