BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Taj Williams, 30, of Rochester, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with causing or attempting to cause malicious damage or destruction, by means of fire or explosives, of a building used in interstate commerce. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who handled the case, stated that according to the complaint, on January 18, 2015, the defendant set fire to the Chili Express convenience store at 989 Chili Avenue in Rochester using a Molotov cocktail. A fire previously occurred at the store on November 5, 2012, which ruined much of the merchandise and caused structural damage.
The defendant made an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson and is being detained pending a court appearance on October 2, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.
The complaint is the culmination of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Delano A. Reid, New York Field Division, the Rochester Fire Department, Fire Investigation Unit, under the direction of Chief John Schreiber, and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.