A 42-year-old Sylmar man was indicted on federal arson charges Tuesday in connection with setting fire to the building that houses Pizzeria Mozza in late May, as unrest gripped Los Angeles and some protests were marred by vandalism and thefts.
Mario Ernesto Alvarado faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the charge that he set a fire inside the popular Hancock Park restaurant on May 30, according to a media release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
The incident occurred during the second of several nights of widespread protests against police brutality across the city that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On May 30, protests in the Fairfax district devolved into altercations between officers, peaceful demonstrators and others who vandalized businesses and set fire to police cars.
Federal prosecutors said Alvarado walked into the building on Melrose and Highland avenues known as the Mozzaplex, which houses Pizzeria Mozza, poured flammable liquid onto the ground and set a fire. The blaze caused more than $500,000 in structural damage to the building, prosecutors allege.
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