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Press Release

Memphis Men Plead Guilty to String of Arsons at Tax Service Businesses

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

Memphis, TNDantoni Colbert, 35, and Edward Matthews, Jr., 33, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit arson, and arson of three separate tax service businesses. The arson crimes occurred in Memphis in February 2023. United States Attorney Kevin G. Ritz announced the guilty pleas today. 

According to the information presented in court, on February 6 and 7, 2023, Colbert and Matthews conspired to set fire to three different buildings that were occupied by Washington Tax Services in the Memphis area.   

On February 8, 2024, Matthews pled guilty to all four counts of the indictment before United States District Judge Thomas L. Parker.  On May 15, 2024, Colbert also pled guilty as charged to all four counts before Judge Parker. 

Both defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum of up to 20 years in federal prison, plus up to a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Memphis Fire Department. 

United States Attorney Ritz stated: “Arson is a dangerous crime that threatens the safety of the community—and in particular, the safety of first responders in our city.  Individuals who commit arson of businesses in West Tennessee will continue to get the full attention of law enforcement.” 

“The criminal act of arson poses an unnecessary risk to the citizens and the first responders of the city of Memphis as well as having a negative impact on the financial systems of the community,” said ATF Nashville Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson.  “Arson is used to intimidate, harm, or for criminal profit through fraudulent insurance proceeds.  ATF is committed to protecting the public and will continue to vigorously investigate these criminal acts.” 

United States Attorney Kevin Ritz thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Wagner and Stephen Hall, who are prosecuting this case, as well as law enforcement partners investigating the case.   

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For more information, please contact the Media Relations Team at USATNW.Media@usdoj.gov. Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Facebook or on X at @WDTNNews for office news and updates

Updated May 16, 2024