LOS ANGELES – A Sylmar man was charged today in a federal grand jury indictment alleging that he deliberately set Hollywood’s Pizzeria Mozza restaurant on fire during the civil disturbances that struck the city in late May.
Mario Ernesto Alvarado, 42, is charged with one count of arson. His arraignment is scheduled for August 10 in United States District Court. Alvarado was arrested on a federal criminal complaint in this case on July 16. He is free on $25,000 bond.
During the civil disturbances that occurred in Los Angeles on May 30, Alvarado allegedly walked into a commercial building in Hollywood that housed Pizzeria Mozza and its related business, Mozza2Go. Once inside the building, Alvarado maliciously poured a flammable liquid on the restaurant floor and set it on fire, according to the indictment. Arson investigators determined that the fire caused $500,000 in structural damage to the shop, with an additional $50,000 in fire damage to restaurant merchandise and property, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case. At the time of the fire, the restaurant and shop were closed due to a curfew order.
On June 29, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department posted a press release seeking information leading to the arrest of several alleged arsonists suspected of starting fires across Los Angeles during May’s civil disturbances. Alvarado was identified by a member of the public as one of the alleged arsonists, according to court documents.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, Alvarado would face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
This matter was investigated by the SAFE LA Task Force, which includes members of the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Santa Monica Police Department, the Beverly Hills Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce K. Riordan of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.