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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Sacramento Man Charged Federally with Arson in Galleria Fire

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Placer County District Attorney Ronald Owens, and Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Sacramento has returned an indictment charging Alexander Piggee, 23, of Sacramento, with two counts of arson for causing fires that damaged the Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville and a Wal-Mart on Antelope Road in Sacramento County. Both fires occurred on October 21, 2010. Although the Wal-Mart fire caused only minor damage, the loss from the Galleria fire is expected to be over $55 million. Piggee is currently being held in the Placer County jail on charges stemming from the Galleria arson and will be transferred into federal custody after the Placer County charges are dismissed.

According to the indictment, Piggee started the first fire in the garden department of Wal-Mart at approximately 4:30 a.m. That store is open 24 hours a day. The indictment alleges that several hours later, Piggee entered the Game Stop in the Galleria Mall and, after ordering a store employee to leave, started a fire in a storeroom in the back of the store. The fire then spread through the ceiling and duct work and ultimately destroyed a large portion of the mall.

U.S. Attorney Wagner said: After consulting with law enforcement partners in Placer and Sacramento counties, it was determined that a federal prosecution in which both arsons could be charged and prosecuted in a single proceeding was appropriate in this case.

Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins said, As today’s indictment demonstrates, ATF continues to aggressively work with our investigative counterparts to address violent crime. A deliberately set fire is a violent crime that warrants our full attention, and gets it.

The maximum penalty for each count of arson is 20 years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years on each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is a product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local agencies. The Galleria fire was investigated by the Roseville Fire Department and the Roseville Police Department. The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District investigated the Wal-Mart fire. Due to the size of the Galleria fire, the ATF’s National Response Team was called in for the cause and origin investigation. The National Response Team is composed of multiple experts from around the country who have expertise in fire science and investigation. Assistant United States Attorney R. Steven Lapham is prosecuting the case.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.