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Firefighters at the scene of a fire that destroyed the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue
Homeless man pleads guilty to Minnesota synagogue fire
Matthew Amiot, 36, enters guilty pleas on negligent fire charges for blaze that destroyed the Adas Israel Synagogue; police say they don't believe the fire, which came just weeks ahead of the Jewish high holy days, was a hate crime

DULUTH, Minn. - A homeless man who admitted starting a fire that destroyed a 117-year-old synagogue in Minnesota, then walking away from the growing blaze because he couldn't douse it by spitting on it, is expected to get probation after pleading guilty.

 

 

Matthew Amiot, 36, entered his guilty pleas on negligent fire charges Tuesday in St. Louis County District Court.

 

Firefighters work at the scene of an overnight fire that engulfed and destroyed the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in downtown Duluth, Sept. 9, 2019
Firefighters work at the scene of an overnight fire that engulfed and destroyed the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in downtown Duluth, Sept. 9, 2019

 

The fire destroyed the Adas Israel Synagogue on Sept. 9 in Duluth.

 

Authorities say Amiot used a lighter to ignite a pile of combustible materials outside the main building, near a separate sukkah.

 

 

The complaint says Amiot admitted starting the fire and told police he tried to spit on it to put it out, but walked away when that didn't work.

 

Police say they don't believe the fire, which came just weeks ahead of the Jewish high holy days, was a hate crime.

 

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 25. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that prosecutors are recommending probation. As a condition of his release from jail, he was ordered to remain at a homeless shelter until his next hearing.

 

Prosecutors said they plan to ask for a stayed sentence, meaning Amiot would be spared additional jail time if he stays out of trouble. The maximum potential penalty is three years in prison.

 

"No fires, no trouble, no nothing," Judge Shaun Floerke told Amiot.

 

 

This undated booking photo from the St. Louis (Minnesota) County Sheriff’s Office shows Matthew James Amiot, who was arrested Sept. 13, 2019, over the fire at the Adas Israel Congregation in Duluth
This undated booking photo from the St. Louis (Minnesota) County Sheriff’s Office shows Matthew James Amiot, who was arrested Sept. 13, 2019, over the fire at the Adas Israel Congregation in Duluth

 

Tuesday's hearing was moved up from its original date in October so that Amiot could make a long-scheduled housing meeting Wednesday, the newspaper reported. He said he had been waiting three years for a chance at housing assistance.

 

According to its website, the Adas Israel Congregation is an Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish congregation with 75 members, though many family members of the congregation would return for holiday services. Construction was completed in 1902.

 

The lost religious antiquities were worth at least $250,000, while the structure was valued at $117,000. Only eight of 14 Torah scrolls, the holy books of Judaism, that were inside could be saved.

 

One firefighter suffered a concussion fighting the blaze.

 


פרסום ראשון: 09.25.19, 23:11
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