Brooklyn Center Man Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years After Staging Political Arson
A Brooklyn Center man was sentenced to prison this week after staging a politically-motivated arson.
Denis Molla, 30, was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison and one year of probation for wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to the charge last year.
According to court documents, during the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2020, Molla started his camper on fire at his home in the 6900 block of Morgan Avenue. The fire spread and burned down his garage, two vehicles and the camper.
The fire also damaged his home, where his wife and children were sleeping inside.
Before he started the fire, he spray painted “BLM,” “Biden 2020,” and an Antifa symbol on his garage door.
Police and firefighters responded to the fire, rescuing his wife, children and dogs in the house and back yard.
Molla told law enforcement he was targeted for the fire because he had displayed a Trump 2020 flag on his camper. He claimed to see “three males … at least six feet tall” running away from the scene, according to court documents.
After lying to law enforcement and the media, Molla submitted fraudulent insurance claims and started a GoFundMe account. A friend also started a GoFundMe for Molla.
He eventually collected more than $61,000 from insurance companies and more than $20,000 from donations.
Investigation Finds Evidence of Fake Politically-Motivated Arson
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement conducted an investigation into the incident.
“The investigation revealed that several days before the fire, Molla was captured on surveillance video buying gas cans, spray paint, and Duraflame logs at a Menards in Coon Rapids, Minnesota,” a court document reads. “Molla moved the angle of his home surveillance cameras shortly before the fire started to direct them away from where he started the fire. He used a fabric cover to physically cover his home surveillance camera.”
When investigators confronted him about his story, Molla admitted to the scheme. He later pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors recommended the judge sentence Molla to three-and-a-half to four-and-a-quarter years in prison, while Molla’s attorneys asked for probation but no prison time.
Molla’s attorneys told the judge the incident was out of character, as he has otherwise been law-abiding.
“He, like most of the country, was worn down from COVID lockdowns and political disagreements,” Molla’s attorney wrote. “He also struggled with his relationship with his daughter and his own COVID-19 illness. The combined emotional and mental distress contributed to his poor decision to commit the crime. He wanted to make a statement that the political left—who he saw as attacking his own political beliefs—was no better than the political right. As he acknowledged in the [pre sentence investigation report], his actions proved him to be worse than both political sides.”