News and Press Releases

Zia Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Arson Charge

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – Lawrence Shije, 35, a member and resident of Zia Pueblo, pleaded guilty this morning to a federal arson charge.

Shije was indicted on Oct. 30, 2013, and charged with setting fire to and burning a dwelling located on Zia Pueblo on June 30, 2012.  Today, Shije pled guilty to the indictment and admitted maliciously setting fire to and burning a small area of a residence located on Zia Pueblo.  In his plea agreement, Shije acknowledged that the owner of the residence is the mother of his two children, and that she and the children were in the residence at the time he started the fire.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Shije will be sentenced to a year and a day in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.   Shije remains at a half-way house under pretrial supervision pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Northern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.  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.

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