Savage man sentenced to more than 6 years in prison for arson of Dakota County government building

Co-defendant Ziegler remains in custody awaiting future court appearances.

Fornandous Cortez Henderson/Sherburne County Jail

A Savage man has been sentenced to over six years in prison for his role in the arson of a Dakota County government building in the days that followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in May.

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced on Wednesday the sentencing of Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 33, to 78 months in prison for aiding and abetting arson. Henderson pled guilty on Aug. 26, 2020, and was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Susan Richard Nelson in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Alpha News previously reported on the charges against Henderson and co-defendant Garrett Patrick Ziegler back in June following their apprehension.

Garrett Patrick Ziegler

According to Henderson’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, Henderson and Ziegler constructed multiple Molotov cocktails. In the early morning hours of May 29, 2020, Henderson and Ziegler went to the Dakota County Western Service Center (the ”WSC”) located at 14955 Galaxie Avenue in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The WSC houses state and local agencies and organizations, including Dakota County court facilities, as well as a U.S. Passport center.

Henderson admitted in his guilty plea that he chose the WSC as a target because he had previously made court appearances at that building and was angry with law enforcement regarding the recent death of George Floyd.

According to Minnesota court records, Henderson has several misdemeanor convictions in Dakota County involving disorderly conduct, trespassing, obstruction, DWI and other driving offenses. Henderson also has a 2015 felony conviction in Dakota County on second-degree burglary. In that case, Henderson was granted a stay on his 14-month sentence by Judge Arlene Perkkio. Instead, Henderson was given credit for 60 days already spent in jail and was released on probation.

During the Dakota County arson incident, Henderson and Ziegler used baseball bats to break multiple windows at the WSC and threw in multiple, lit Molotov cocktails. Some of the devices successfully ignited and caused fire damage to the WSC. The attack caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to the charges.

Court documents further state that Henderson and Ziegler started and attempted to start other fires at the WSC by pouring ignitable liquids and throwing unlit Molotov cocktails in and around the broken windows, then attempting to start the fluids on fire.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, offenders can earn a maximum sentence reduction of fifteen percent for “good time credit.” As such, Henderson will serve at least five-and-a-half years in prison followed by three years on supervised release. Henderson has also been ordered to pay $205,872.53 in restitution.

Co-defendant Ziegler remains in custody awaiting future court appearances.

U.S. Attorney MacDonald said this case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Apple Valley Police Department, and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

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