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Press Release

Zia Pueblo Man Sentenced for Federal Arson Conviction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Lawrence Shije, 35, a member and resident of Zia Pueblo, was sentenced this morning to a year and a day in federal prison for his arson conviction.  Shije will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.

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.  On Jan. 13, 2014, Shije entered a guilty plea 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 when he started the fire.  The fire burned a small area of the residence’s external wall (a patch of about 12 inches by 12 inches in size) before it was extinguished.

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

The case was prosecuted 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.

Updated January 26, 2015