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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Sacramento Man Pleads Guilty to Arson in Galleria Fire

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Alexander Piggee, 23, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today to 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.

According to court documents, Piggee started the first fire in the garden department of Wal-Mart, which is open 24 hours a day, at approximately 4:30 a.m. 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. Although the Wal-Mart fire caused only minor damage, the loss from the Galleria fire is expected to be more than $55 million.

Prior to sentencing in this case and as a further condition of this plea agreement, Piggee will plead guilty to one count of arson charged in a Sacramento County Superior Court case with the understanding that the Sacramento County District Attorney will recommend a concurrent prison term.

Piggee is scheduled for sentencing on May 24, 2011at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for each count, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for 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.