Joliet Man Arrested on Arson and Civil Rights Charges for Allegedly Setting Fire to Home of African-American Family
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 30, 2012|
CHICAGO—Accused of targeting an African-American family because of their race, a Joliet man was arrested today by FBI agents on federal arson and civil rights charges for allegedly setting fire to their home on his street. No one was injured in the early morning blaze in June 2007, although the home was occupied by eight children and an adult at the time of the fire.
The defendant, Brian James Moudry, was charged with one count each of arson, using fire to interfere with housing rights on the basis of race, and using fire to commit another felony in a three-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury last Thursday and unsealed today following his arrest.
Moudry, 35, of the 300 block of South Reed Street in Joliet, was scheduled to appear at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert in U.S. District Court.
“The federal government takes very seriously its responsibilities to protect members of all racial and ethnic groups from intimidation and violence. We appreciate very much the hard work of the agents who pursued this investigation with great tenacity,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who announced the arrest and charges with Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the indictment, Moudry set fire to a house located in the 300 block of South Reed Street on June 17, 2007. The fire was reported at approximately 4:10 a.m. The indictment alleges that Moudry set the fire to “injure, intimidate, and interfere with, and attempt to injure, intimidate and interfere with, Victim A and her family, all of whom were African-American, because of their race” and because they were renting and occupying the dwelling. The family moved after the fire.
The arson charge carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison; arson to interfere with housing rights carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; and arson while committing another felony carries a mandatory prison term of 10 years, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy DePodesta.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.