A department chair at American U. has ended up pleading guilty to a long list of illegal actions. Keith L. Alexander from the Washington Post reports.

American University professor charged with setting fires pleads guilty to burglary

An American University professor who was charged with breaking into an office building and setting several small fires in September pleaded guilty Friday in D.C. Superior Court to burglary.

Prosecutors said David Pitts, 38, set a chair and bottles on fire near the parking attendant booth of the garage at an office complex in the 3300 block of New Mexico Avenue NW on Sept. 4. The fire destroyed the chair and caused damage to the attendant booth. He then walked to another part of the complex and twice ignited some newspapers on the ground, authorities said.

Minutes later, prosecutors said, Pitts walked to a wooded area near the adjacent Embassy Park complex and set another small fire.

After setting the fires, prosecutors say Pitts entered an office building on New Mexico Avenue, which houses doctors’ offices and a pharmacy, with the intent to steal prescription medications, controlled substances and prescription pads. He was arrested at the scene.

Police later searched Pitts’s apartment and found more than 5,300 pills and blank prescription pads from at least nine different doctors’ offices. In connection with that evidence, Pitts also pleaded guilty to identity theft.

In exchange for the plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to charge him in connection with the fires on Sept. 4. But investigators were still looking into other fires that occurred on Aug. 28, 29 and 30 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. The plea deal is not connected to that investigation, prosecutors said.

Pitts, who chaired American’s Department of Public Administration and Policy was placed on leave from the university after his arrest and his duties were reassigned, said university spokeswoman Kelly L. Alexander.

Pitts is scheduled to be sentenced March 20. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison on the burglary charge and 10 years on the identify theft charge.