Las Vegas, Nevada – A Las Vegas man charged by a federal criminal complaint for starting a fire causing approximately $10 million in damage to The Drew Las Vegas, made his initial court appearance today, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.
Andrew Joseph Sanders, 26, was charged with one count of arson. He made his initial court appearance before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2018.
According to allegations contained in the complaint, Sanders was observed on video surveillance trespassing at The Drew Las Vegas property, formerly the Fontainebleau Hotel and Casino, on March 1, 2018. The surveillance depicted Sanders at the approximate time and near the location where man-made (incendiary) fires were set in the structure. When leaving the structure, Sanders engaged in a physical altercation with a responding firefighter, which delayed the firefighters’ efforts to get water to the fire. Sanders fled the scene and was later arrested by officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The majority of the fire damage occurred within 3,000 square feet of unfinished ballroom space on the 11th floor of a tower structure. A second fire was set in another ballroom space.
Fire investigators determined that both fires were incendiary and not the result of an accidental cause, such as an electrical or appliance malfunction. Based on a preliminary estimate, approximately $10 million in damage was caused by the fire.
It is further alleged that during an interview with Fire Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Clark County Fire Department, Sanders admitted to trespassing at The Drew Las Vegas property and being on the 11th floor of the parking tower where the fire was started.
The maximum statutory penalty for arson is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The press release is available at justice.gov.