Palm Desert man sentenced to 13 years for burning down headquarters of local Republican group

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A Palm Desert man previously sentenced in federal court to five years in prison for setting fire to the La Quinta office of a Republican organization was today sentenced in state court to 13 years for the same crime.

Carlos Espriu, 24, pleaded guilty in October in Riverside County Superior Court to one count of arson of not living in and possession of destructive or explosive devices, as well as an allegation of use of ‘a device designed to accelerate the fire.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky on Wednesday sentenced Espriu to 13 years in prison on the charges, a sentence that will be served concurrently with his five-year federal sentence.

Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer John Hall said that sentence can be served in any state or federal penitentiary.

In federal court in March, Espriu pleaded guilty to a single federal count of attempted arson of a building, admitting he used a Molotov cocktail in an attempt to destroy the East Valley office Republican Women Federated at La Quinta in May 2020.

US District Judge Percy Anderson sentenced him to five years in prison and ordered him to pay $ 5,426 in restitution for damage caused by the bombing.

In the early morning hours of May 31, 2020, Espriu smashed the front windows of the EVRWF headquarters and threw a lit Molotov cocktail consisting of three bottles that he had taped together, according to federal prosecutors.

News Channel 3 first covered the attack on June 1, and the EVRWF aired footage of the firebombing on June 2 in hopes of receiving information leading to the suspect.

No one was injured in the fire. According to the Riverside County Fire Department, firefighters quickly put out the blaze before it caused significant damage.

According to the DOJ, several people provided information that allowed law enforcement to identify Espriu.

EVRWF President Joy Miedecke said surveillance footage showed a man setting fire after smashing windows with a baseball bat. The advice generated by the organization’s reward offer apparently helped authorities identify
Espriu.

Federal prosecutors said investigators discovered social media accounts believed to belong to Espriu, including a Twitter account which, three days before the EVRWF firebombing, tweeted: “I want to go burn sh ** and be hit by tear gas. “

Officials also saw Espriu repeatedly use a vehicle closely resembling the one seen on surveillance footage.

Espriu was arrested by the Gang Impact team in Indio on September 9, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

“Investigators determined that Espriu was attending a party in Indio on September 9 and stopped a vehicle he was driving when he left the party,” a statement from the district attorney said.

The criminal complaint also revealed that investigators served a search warrant at Espriu’s residence in July which resulted in the recovery of a green lighter very similar to the one used to light Molotov cocktails.

Officials also recovered audio recordings from a dash cam in which they say Espriu was overheard telling a woman in late June that he had shaved his facial hair after seeing part of the body. surveillance video broadcast to local news. He also described his planning, his attempts to recruit others to help him and the steps he took to start the fire.

In the audio recordings, Espriu says he made the Molotov cocktails by filling three bottles with gasoline and inserting a napkin into a bottle. He then reportedly recounted the details of the firebombing seen on surveillance video, according to the complaint.

The FBI’s Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated this case.

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