Miami Man Sentenced in Arson of Okeechobee City Convenience Store
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Financial Services, Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation, Dennis Davis, Chief, Okeechobee City Police Department, Herb Smith, Fire Chief, Okeechobee City Fire Department, and J.D. Patterson, Acting Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced today’s sentencing of Christopher Van Hatcher, 33, of Miami, on arson charges. Hatcher had previously pled guilty to arson, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(i).
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced Hatcher to 105 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, restitution to the owners of the convenience store will be ordered within 60 days.
According to the stipulated factual basis filed in this case, on May 4, 2011, Hatcher burglarized the Handy Food Store, located on South Parrott Avenue, in Okeechobee, to obtain Florida Lottery scratch off tickets. Before leaving the store, Hatcher set fire to the remaining lottery tickets, causing extensive fire and smoke damage to the store. First responders from the Okeechobee City Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene and extinguished the fire. Hatcher was identified several days later attempting to redeem the stolen scratch off tickets in Miami, Florida. Also, Hatcher’s DNA was found on items left at the arson scene in Okeechobee.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative and cooperative efforts of ATF, Department of Financial Services, Division of State Fire Marshal, the Okeechobee City Police Department, the Okeechobee City Fire Department, and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam McMichael.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.