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Brooklyn Park man gets prison sentence for arson during 2020 riots

Samuel Elliot Frey pleaded guilty to setting fire to a St. Paul health store.
Samuel Frey

A man who set fire to a business in St Paul's Midway area during the 2020 riots has been sentenced for his crimes.

Samuel Elliot Frey, 21, pleaded guilty last summer to conspiracy to commit arson at the Great Health and Nutrition store, where he was caught on surveillance camera starting a fire with hand sanitizer and flaming paper. 

He was working with at least two co-conspirators, one of whom — 21-year-old McKenzy Ann DeGidio Dunn — was sentenced to three years of probation last May, a news release says. 

On Friday, federal judge Judge Nancy E. Brasel sentenced Frey to 27 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release and $33,826.64 in restitution for the fire damage.

According to MPR, Frey's prison term is shorter than the norm for people federally convicted of arson in connection with 2020's civil unrest — as Brasel weighed the defendant's youth, his "otherwise minimal criminal record" and "mental health challenges that resulted from childhood trauma."

However, Brasel told Frey that he "caused great damage to the cause of peaceful protest everywhere" and to “democracy itself,” MPR notes.

He's one of several people to be charged at the federal level for arson during the riots, which followed the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. 

These include four men who were involved in the fire that burned down  the police department's Third Precinct, and a man who set fire to a Sprint store after traveling 400 miles from Illinois. 

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