Man pleads guilty to burning business during protest

September 8, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a Madison man Wednesday to five years in prison for trying to burn down a jewelry store during a police brutality protest last year.

A grand jury indicted charged 46-year-old Willie Tremaine Johnson with two counts of attempted arson in October. Prosecutors accused him of trying to burn down Chalmer’s Jewelers and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce headquarters on Aug. 25, 2020 during the protest. The demonstration began after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha.

Johnson pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying burn down the jewelry store. Prosecutors dropped the second count in exchange. U.S. District Judge James Peterson handed down the sentence.

Johnson’s co-defendant, Anessa Fierro, was indicted on two counts of attempted arson as well in October. She has agreed to plead guilty to the count related to the jewelry store and has a sentencing hearing set for Oct. 19, according to court documents.