For Immediate Release
Joliet Man Charged with Arson for Allegedly Setting Fire to His Employer's Warehouse in Woodridge
CHICAGO — A Joliet man was charged with arson today for allegedly causing a fire that destroyed his employer’s furniture distribution center in west suburban Woodridge.
RUBEN ANTONIO OCHOA CRUZ, a high lift operator in the warehouse, used a Bic lighter to spark the fire on April 21, 2016, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. He set the fire after meeting with his supervisors regarding an issue with his attendance at work, according to the complaint. Approximately 65 employees were working at the warehouse at the time of the fire, and all of them escaped safely.
The complaint charges Cruz, 20, with one count of arson. He made an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez and was ordered held in federal custody. A detention hearing was scheduled for May 4, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.
According to the complaint, firefighters from approximately 30 departments worked for seven hours to extinguish the blaze, which caused millions of dollars in damage. The distribution center was burned to the ground, the complaint states. No firefighters were injured.
The arson charge carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The complaint was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffery Magee, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of ATF. The officials praised the bravery of the firefighters who worked tirelessly to extinguish the blaze.
The Woodridge Police Department, Lemont Police Department and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Misty Wright.