☷Missouri Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime and Arson for Burning Down a Church
U.S. Department of Justice ( By Press Release office)
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The Justice Department announced that Christopher Scott Pritchard , 46 , has been charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter - day Saints in Cape Girardeau , Missouri . Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division , U . S . Attorney Sayler A . Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri and Acting Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis for the FBI St . Louis Field Office made the announcement . According to court documents , Pritchard is charged with intentionally obstructing parishioners of the church in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs and using fire to commit a federal felony . If convicted , Pritchard faces up to 20 years in prison for obstructing the parishioners and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison , consecutive to any other sentence , for using fire to commit a federal felony . Pritchard also faces a fine of up to $250 , 000 with respect to each charge . These charges are the result of an investigation by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office , the FBI , the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco , Firearms & Explosives . The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Shan Patel and Noah Coakley of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U . S . Attorney Paul Hahn for the Eastern District of Missouri . For more information and resources on the department’s efforts to combat hate crimes , visit www . justice . gov/hatecrimes . An indictment is merely an allegation , and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law .
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