Suspect apprehended in arson case at Senator Sanders’ Burlington office

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BURLINGTON — The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont announced the arrest of Shant Soghomonian, also known as Michael Soghomonian, 35, formerly of Northridge, California, in connection with an April 5 arson incident at One Church Street in Burlington. The building, which houses Senator Bernie Sanders’ Vermont office, is involved in interstate commerce.

Soghomonian was detained on April 7, following a federal criminal complaint accusing him of using fire to damage the Burlington building. A date for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle has not been set.

Court documents reveal that on the morning of April 5, Soghomonian entered the building and ascended to the third floor, where Senator Sanders’ office is located. Security footage shows him spraying a liquid outside the office door and igniting it with a handheld lighter, causing a fire that damaged the door and surrounding area. The blaze triggered the discharge of sprinklers on multiple floors. While Senator Sanders’ office was occupied at the time, there were no physical injuries reported.

The U.S. Attorney’s office stresses that these charges are merely accusations, and Soghomonian remains presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in prison, along with a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing will be determined by the Court, guided by the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant factors.

U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest praised the cooperative investigation led by the Burlington Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Shelburne Police Department, the Williston Police Department, the Vermont State Police, and the U.S. Capitol Police.

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