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Madison woman convicted of attempted arson during 2020 civil unrest

Subject #1 walking away holding the gasoline container.
Subject #1 walking away holding the gasoline container.(UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN CRIMINAL COMPLAINT)
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A 28-year-old Madison woman was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday after being convicted of attempted arson during the 2020 civil unrest.

Anessa Fierro was sentenced to five years in prison after she and her codefendent, 46-year-old Willie Johnson, were indicted by a federal grand jury in October of 2020.

The U.S. Department of Justice states that she and Johnson attempted to set fire to two commercial buildings on Aug. 25, 2020 in downtown Madison. The first business was an office and the second was a mixed-use rental property with apartments on the upper levels, which had people sleeping inside at the time.

According to the complaints released in September, Fierro and Johnson allegedly broke glass windows and doors of two commercial buildings, poured liquid from a gasoline container inside the buildings and then attempted to ignite the fluid.

Fierro and Johnson then allegedly started a fire successfully at one building and continued to attempt to ignite the liquid in the second building, but then Madison police officers arrived.

Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson highlighted the danger that pouring and igniting gasoline can have on the community. He described her conduct as “appalling and dangerous,” as well as that it warranted significant punishment.

Judge Peterson sentenced Johnson to the same length in prison in September.

The Madison Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation.

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