(STL.News) – A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Sam Resto with setting on fire a marked New York City Police Department (NYPD) van. Resto was arrested yesterday and will make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, NYPD Commissioner, announced the arrest and charges.
“As alleged, Resto, wearing a mask and gloves and carrying a backpack containing the tools of his destructive trade, intentionally set fire to an NYPD van parked on a city street lined with residential buildings and vehicles,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “This Office will vigorously prosecute criminals whose actions endanger the community, police officers and first responders.”
“When Resto set an NYPD van ablaze last month, as we allege today, his actions not only destroyed essential public safety equipment paid for by the people of New York City, he placed the personal safety of those living in the neighborhood and their private property into harm’s way. Deliberate criminal activity like the type alleged today puts both first responders and private citizens at risk, it is an affront to everything this city is supposed to be about. Today’s federal charges are the community’s message back to Mr. Resto and others who may choose to engage in this type of criminal behavior – we will not tolerate crimes of this magnitude and the consequences will be significant,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Today’s criminal complaint not only seeks justice for the alleged torching of an NYPD van parked in a busy Manhattan neighborhood but answers for a crime that put innocent New Yorkers in considerable danger. I thank our NYPD detectives, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and all of our law enforcement partners for their tireless work in ensuring our common mission of protecting life and public safety,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
According to the complaint, in the early morning hours of July 29, 2020, Resto was captured on video setting ablaze an unoccupied NYPD van parked on West 83rd Street near Columbus Avenue in Manhattan. On the video, Resto approached the van, smashed the window with a blunt object, poured gasoline into the interior and set the vehicle on fire before fleeing east towards Central Park. The NYPD subsequently recovered a backpack in the park belonging to Resto containing, among other things, clothing similar to items Resto was seen wearing earlier that morning, a Guy Fawkes mask, a red jerry can that smelled of gasoline, a hammer and lighters.
The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Resto faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Francisco J. Navarro, Michael T. Keilty and Sara K. Winik are in charge of the prosecution.