MN man will plead guilty to starting fire at Grand Forks Somali restaurant


The Minnesota man accused of starting a fire at a Somali-owned restaurant in Grand Forks says he will plead guilty.

Matthew Gust, 25, was charged with arson last December after investigators say he threw a 40-ounce beer bottle filled with gasoline through the window of the Juba Coffee House and Restaurant, causing roughly $90,000 in damage.

Gust faces two charges and a maximum sentence of 35 years –five years for malicious use of explosive materials and 30 years for use of a destructive device during a crime of violence, Forum News reported.

He pleaded not guilty in federal court to both the first charge in January, and the second charge in March.

Now his attorney has filed notice in federal court that Gust will plead guilty to two counts, the Pioneer Press reports. The plea deal calls for a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Defense attorney Ted Sandberg told the Associated Press Tuesday that any racial overtones were overblown by people who aren’t familiar with the case.

Days prior to the fire, the store was vandalized with graffiti including the words “go home” and a symbol used in Nazi Germany.

Investigators have said they’re not sure whether the vandalism was connected to the fire, but members of the community called it a hate crime.

Court records show that a change of plea hearing has not been scheduled, according to Forum News.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2021?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.

BMTN 900x450 (8)

Company that falsely promised student loan forgiveness banned from MN

It's also been ordered to repay $11,499 in fees taken from Minnesotans.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 15

Hospitalizations are the lowest in Minnesota since October 25.


Osterholm: B117 COVID strain could become major issue in 6-8 weeks

The B117 variant is believed to be more easily transmitted.


Grand Forks Sheriff's Department about to start using drones

The department in North Dakota will be among only seven law enforcement offices nationwide to use unmanned aircraft this spring. The Fargo Forum reports the sheriff's department has partnered with UND to develop an unmanned aircraft systems program that will be unique to the upper Midwest. The drones can be used for standoff situations and crime scenes as well as search and rescue operations.

Grand Forks columnist reviews some of the best New York City restaurants

Earlier this month, Marilyn Hagerty's review of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks went viral. Following a media blitz with appearances on ABC, CBS and NBC, the 85-year-old scored a reservation at Le Bernardin, one of the top restaurants in NYC.

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 2.58.20 PM

Brainerd man pleads guilty to helping start fire at Third Precinct

He was among four Minnesota men charged in connection to the arson fire at the precinct in May.