News and Press Releases

Man Pleads Guilty to Arson of Okeechobee City Convenience Store

August 16, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Miami Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Financial Services, Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation, Dennis Davis, Police Chief, Okeechobee City Police Department, Herb Smith, Fire Chief, Okeechobee City Fire Department, and James Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announces that Christopher Van Hatcher, 33, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty yesterday to arson, in violation of Title 18, Untied States Code, Sections 844(i).

Sentencing is scheduled for October 26, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham in Fort Pierce, Florida. At sentencing, Hatcher faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and maximum of 30 years imprisonment.

According to the stipulated factual basis filed in this case, Hatcher first burglarized the Handy Food Store located at 1408 South Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee, Florida to obtain Florida Lottery scratch off tickets. Before leaving the store, Hatcher set fire to the remaining lottery tickets which caused extensive fire and smoke damage. First responders from the Okeechobee City Police and Fire Departments responded to extinguish the fire.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative and cooperative efforts of all Federal, State and local agencies which all contributed to identifying Hatcher. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael.

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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 Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

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