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Press Release

Erie Man Admits Setting Fire to Local Coffee Shop in May 2020

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

ERIE Pa. - A former resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of malicious destruction of property by fire, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

Melquan Barnett, 30, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Barnett set fire to the Ember + Forge building located at 401 State Street in Erie on May 30, 2020.

Judge Baxter scheduled sentencing for May 2, 2023 at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Barnett on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Erie Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Barnett.

Updated January 6, 2023

Violent Crime