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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of Iowa

For Immediate Release

November 15, 2012

Sean R. Berry, United States Attorney

Contact: Peter Deegan, Public Information Officer
(319) 363-6333

Serial Arsonist Sentenced to Twenty Years in Prison for Starting Three Fires

A convicted arsonist was sentenced to twenty years in prison today for starting three fires, one of which injured a firefighter.

Shawn Gant, age 40, from West Union, Iowa, received the prison term after a jury found him guilty of three counts of arson following a seven–day trial in July 2012.

The evidence at trial showed that, on July 5, 2009, Gant set fire to a rental home in Independence, Iowa, where he had been staying with friends. On October 10, 2009, Gant set fire to a rental home in Fayette, Iowa, occupied by the mother of Gant’s child. On May 7, 2010, Gant set fire to his apartment located in the West Charles Mall building in Oelwein, Iowa. The fire, stoked by strong winds, grew out of control and destroyed the entire building, along with an adjoining building. While attempting to suppress the fire, a firefighter suffered minor injuries when a flash–over occurred.

In 2002, Gant was convicted of two counts of arson in the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County. Gant also admitted starting a car fire in Decorah in 2002, and an apartment fire in Oelwein in 2004. The apartment fire destroyed a building.

Gant was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. Gant was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment. Gant was also ordered to pay $418,658.46 in restitution to the victims of the three fires he started. A special assessment of $300 was imposed. He must also serve a 5–year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Gant is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys C.J. Williams and Anthony Morfitt. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Iowa State Fire Marshal Division, Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, the police departments and fire departments for the cities of Calmar, Decorah, Fayette, Independence, Oelwein, and St. Lucas, and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office.

Court file information is available at The case file number is 11–CR–2042.