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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget M. Brennan and Ava Rotell Dustin Honored for Toledo Mosque Arson Prosecution

Attorney General Eric Holder presented Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget M. Brennan and Ava M. Rotell Dustin the John Marshall Award for Participation in Litigation today at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring them for successfully prosecuting the arson at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo last year.

The annual Attorney General Awards recognize department employees and other individuals for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission.  

“With this important event, we come together to honor some of our nation’s most distinguished, dedicated, and deserving public servants,” said Attorney General Holder.  “The hard work and impressive achievements of these 278 award recipients have inspired their colleagues at every level of the U.S. Department of Justice – including me.  Their leadership has been indispensable in defining the past year as one of historic accomplishment in the face of nearly unprecedented challenge.”

“The hard work of these talented prosecutors and agents deserves national recognition, both because of their success but even more because of what they were fighting for,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach. “Religious freedom is at the core of our community and nation, and those who would commit acts of violence based on a how someone prays also do violence to our American ideals.”

The John Marshall Award for Participation in Litigation is presented for superior performance in the litigation and prosecution of Randolph Linn, the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo arsonist.  Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget M. Brennan and Ava M. Rotell Dustin.

On Sept. 30, 2012, Linn, armed with gas cans and a handgun, set fire to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, the largest mosque in northwest Ohio.  This horrific act resulted in more than $1.4 million in damage, displaced the congregation and a full-time elementary school for over a year, and caused a wave of fear to spread throughout the Muslim community in the region.  Less than three months after the fire was set, the recipients skillfully negotiated a binding plea agreement resulting in Linn pleading guilty to damage to religious property, use of a fire to commit a felony and use of a firearm to commit a crime of violence.  On April 16, 2013, Linn was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for these hate crimes.

Updated March 18, 2015