A federal judge on Tuesday imposed a 6½-year prison sentence on a Rochester man convicted of setting fire to a St. Paul school and two stores during the rioting that followed George Floyd's murder.
The sentence in Minneapolis by Judge David S. Doty came after Jose A. Felan Jr., 36, pleaded guilty to arson in connection with fires set May 28, 2020, three days after Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
Felan's sentence includes three years of supervised release after prison. He also was ordered to pay $39,000 in restitution to his victims.
Prosecutors argued in a pre-sentence filing for Felan to receive a sentence of 7¼ years in prison followed by three of supervised release, saying he "took advantage of the chaos that ensued to engage in conduct that was lawless, dangerous and destructive."
Defense attorney Robert Sicoli countered in his court filing that Felan be imprisoned for five years and receive three years' supervised release.
Since his arrest, Felan has been in jail for more than 17 months, "has not seen or talked to his wife and children that entire time, was hospitalized with COVID-19 and almost died as a result," Sicoli wrote.
"What Mr. Felan has already been through," the attorney continued, "and the additional time he will serve in prison when coupled with the supervised release term, is a significant deterrent to him committing another crime. An additional 27 months in prison, as requested by the government, will not further the goal of specific deterrence, but would only be punitive in nature."
Felan and his wife, Mena Dhaya Yousif, 23, were arrested by law enforcement in Mexico after the U.S. Marshals Service found them in February 2021. She also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 3.
Felan was accused of setting fire to Gordon Parks High School, a Goodwill store in the 1200 block of W. University Avenue and 7 Mile Sportswear in the 500 block of W. University.
Surveillance video showed Felan and a third defendant, Mohamed Hussein Abdi, starting a fire in the school, according to the criminal complaint against Abdi.
Abdi, of Maplewood, was seen pouring clear liquid on the cafeteria floor and into a trash can before starting a fire using a "liquid-soaked garment," his charges read.
Felan did the same outside the cafeteria door with a chemical he had in a bag, according to the complaint.
Similar evidence was found at the Goodwill store, where Felan was seen starting a fire minutes before the school was set ablaze, the charges against Abdi read.
Felan has a criminal record that includes drug offenses, burglary, aggravated assault and conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants, according to federal officials.
Abdi, 21, was sentenced in early February to five years' probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. He also was ordered to pay more than $34,000 in damage restitution.
Yousif was with Felan when he set the fires and helped him escape capture. In September 2021, she pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact.