Las Vegas Sun

January 20, 2018

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Autism center arsonist sentenced to 10 years in prison, ordered to pay restitution


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Samuel Powers

The arsonist who earlier this year used Molotov cocktails and gasoline to set fire to a Las Vegas children’s autism learning facility, was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison, authorities said.

Samuel Powers, 24, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay approximately $80,000 in restitution, Daniel G. Bogden, Nevada’s U.S. attorney, announced in a news release.

Powers pleaded guilty in July to one count of arson of property affecting interstate commerce and one count of possession of unregistered firearms – the Molotov cocktails.

“This was deliberate conduct that could have resulted in serious injury or loss of life, but for the very effective sprinkler systems in the building,” Bogden said. “Several buildings were damaged; sophisticated planning and means were used by the defendant to carry out his acts and we are very fortunate this did not result in serious injury or fatalities. Committing arson is never an appropriate way to resolve anger and conflict.”

According to court documents, on April 15, Powers broke into Sport-Social, 7055 Windy St., with three Molotov cocktails and a gasoline container, and poured gasoline and set multiple fires inside the business, which provides services to autistic children.

The fires caused at least $80,000 in damage.

According to an arrest report, Metro Police caught Powers leaving the broken front door with a five-gallon fuel container and second-degree burns on his hand.

Powers also possessed two additional unignited Molotov cocktails inside his vehicle at the scene of the fire, along with plastic gloves, a mask, and handwritten directions to the business.

Powers worked as a part-time editor with Lovaas Center for Behavioral Intervention, a facility that collaborates with Sport-Social.

“He was rogue,” Lovaas Center owner Erik Lovaas told the Sun in April. “When he worked with us, he was a good employee. … Everyone here is shocked. It’s a tragedy for everyone in the community.”

Sport-Social serves children with autism or special needs, teaching them social skills through sports and arts.

Sport-Social celebrated its grand reopening Oct. 25.

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