Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Arson Charge Arising
Out of Fire at Former Girlfriend’s Residence
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Dan Curtis Thompson, 32, of Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to a federal arson charge, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough and John Billison, Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.
Thompson and his twin sister, Christina Thompson were arrested in Oct. 2013, on an indictment charging them with willfully and maliciously setting fire to an occupied rental unit at the Navajo Housing Authority in Ojo Amarillo, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, on Jan. 9, 2013.
This morning, Thompson pled guilty to the indictment and admitted setting fire to his former girlfriend’s residence on Jan. 9, 2013. In his plea agreement, Thompson admitted that he had resided in the victim’s apartment until the victim ejected him after he had a “forceful physical interaction” with the victim. Thompson admitted that as his resentment towards the victim grew, he began putting into place plans to burn her residence. Thompson stated that his sister drove him to the victim’s residence on Jan. 9, 2013, where he shattered a window so he could unlock the door and enter the residence. Once inside, Thompson poured gasoline in the residence; after igniting the gasoline, Thompson fled from the residence with his sister’s assistance.
In his plea agreement, Thompson admitted that he did not check to see if anyone was in the residence when he lit the fire. He further admitted that he burned the victim’s residence to retaliate against the victim.
Thompson has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Christina Thompson has entered a not guilty plea to the indictment and remains on conditions of release pending trial, which is currently set for April 14, 2014. The charge against Christina Thompson is merely an accusation and she is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Shiprock Division of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers. It was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.