41 Months in Prison for Arson of Minneapolis Police Station, Theft

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From a Justice Department press release yesterday:

A St. Paul man was sentenced yesterday to 41 months in prison for his role in the arsons at the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct building.

According to court documents, on the night of May 28, 2020, Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, went to the Third Precinct where a crowd of hundreds had gathered. At one point, the crowd began shouting, "Burn it down, burn it down." Soon after, a fence that was designed to keep trespassers out of the Third Precinct was torn down. Wolfe pushed a barrel into a fire located in the entrance of the Third Precinct headquarters, which had been set by other unidentified co-conspirators, with the intent to accelerate the existing fire.

Wolfe also entered the Third Precinct building and stole several items, including a police vest, duty belt, handcuffs, earpiece, baton, knife, riot helmet, pistol magazine, police radio, police overdose kit, uniform name plates, and ammunition. Wolfe was arrested on June 3, 2020, wearing the police vest, the duty belt and carrying the tactical baton.

"Mr. Wolfe furthered the destruction that took place in Minneapolis last summer by literally adding fuel to the fire. In addition to the arson, Mr. Wolfe stole body armor, weapons, and ammunition belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department," said Acting U.S. Attorney Anders Folk. "This sentence underscores the seriousness of Mr. Wolfe's actions and holds him to account."

"ATF is committed to investigating the civil unrest arsons of 2020 that occurred throughout the Twin Cities," said Special Agent in Charge Terry Henderson, of the ATF St. Paul Field Division. "Arson, being inherently violent, is a serious crime that puts our community members and first responders at risk, and it cannot be tolerated."

"The FBI's mission is to uphold the Constitution, which includes freedom of speech and the right to assemble," said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis field office. "Branden Wolfe crossed the line and engaged in criminal activity during the evening the Third Precinct building was burned down last May. People who choose to engage in violent activity during protests may believe they are anonymous, but they are mistaken and will be held accountable for their crimes."

On December 21, 2020, Wolfe pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. As part of his sentencing, Wolfe was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay $12 million in restitution.

Co-conspirators Bryce Michael Williams, 27, and Davon De-Andre Turner, 25, have all pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit arson for their roles in the arson at the Third Precinct building. They will be sentenced at a later date.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted jointly by the ATF, the FBI, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Jacobs and David P. Steinkamp.