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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Brooklyn Park Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Arson in St. Paul’s Midway Area

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Brooklyn Park man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit arson of the Great Health and Nutrition store in St. Paul, announced Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk.

According to court documents, on May 28, 2020, Samuel Elliot Frey, 20, and his co-conspirators, including co-defendant McKenzy Ann DeGidio Dunn, 20, and Conspirator 1 (who was 17 years old at the time of the arson), joined other individuals who had gathered near the Great Health and Nutrition store located at 1360 University Avenue West, in St. Paul. Frey and his co-conspirators arrived together to the Midway area near University Avenue and walked through multiple businesses before they arrived inside the Great Health and Nutrition retail store. While inside the store, Frey took a bottle of hand sanitizer and poured the contents onto a downed shelving unit located on the floor. Frey then lit paper on fire and placed the flaming paper where he had poured the contents of a hand sanitizer bottle. Frey applied additional hand sanitizer in an attempt to accelerate the fire.  The Great Health and Nutrition store sustained fire damage as a result of Frey’s conduct. 

According to court documents, after May 28, 2020, Frey spoke with co-defendant Dunn and with Conspirator 1 each on at least one occasion. In Frey’s respective discussions with his co-conspirators, Frey instructed them to be untruthful to law enforcement by falsely reporting that another person had supposedly started the fire at the Great Health and Nutrition store.  At the time of Frey’s instructions to his co-conspirators, Frey knew this was a lie. 

On October 26, 2020, co-conspirator Dunn pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson.  On May 10, 2021, United States District Judge Nancy E. Brasel sentenced Dunn to three years of probation and $31,578 in restitution. Frey’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted jointly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the St. Paul Police Department, the St. Paul Fire Department, Brooklyn Park Police Department, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, and the FBI.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew S. Ebert and Joseph S. Teirab.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated July 20, 2021