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Elmhurst Resident Arrested and Charged for Setting NYPD Vehicle on Fire in Manhattan

Photos of the arson (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of NY)

Aug. 14, 2020 By Allie Griffin

An Elmhurst man was arrested and charged with arson Thursday for setting a NYPD vehicle on fire last month in Manhattan.

Sam Resto, 29, will appear in federal court later today for dousing a parked NYPD van with gasoline and setting it ablaze on the Upper West Side in the early morning hours on July 29, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme announced today.

Resto allegedly visited an Elmhurst gas station on the night of July 28 and filled a red jerry can with gasoline, which he brought back to his home, video surveillance shows.

About an hour later, Resto was observed in surveillance getting in a rideshare car heading to Manhattan, according to the criminal complaint.

Suspect Sam Resto of Elmhurst (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of NY)

Resto — in the same clothing as earlier — was then caught on camera smashing in the window of a NYPD vehicle on West 83rd Street near Columbus Avenue just before 4 a.m.

With a Guy Fawkes mask covering his face, Resto poured gasoline inside the car and lit it on fire before fleeing east towards Central Park, the compliant states.

NYPD officers later found a backpack abandoned by Resto in Central Park. It contained the items of clothing he had worn earlier in the day, along with the gasoline can, lighters, a hammer and other items, according to the complaint.

Fingerprints on the gas canister lid match Resto’s and cell tower data places his phone at the scene of the fire and the area his backpack was found, the complaint states.

Items recovered by police (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of NY)

“When Resto set an NYPD van ablaze last month, as we allege today, his actions not only destroyed essential public safety equipment paid for by the people of New York City, he placed the personal safety of those living in the neighborhood and their private property into harm’s way,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said.

If convicted, Resto faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

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