A Chicago man admitted to a federal judge Thursday that he set fire to a Chicago police SUV amid rioting downtown last May, and that he bought fireworks and lighter fluid in anticipation of protests in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Jacob Michael Fagundo, 23, now faces a likely sentence of eight to 14 months behind bars after pleading guilty to obstructing law enforcement amid a civil disorder. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman set Fagundo’s sentencing for July 14.
Prosecutors filed federal charges against Fagundo in connection with the incident late last month. Other federal prosecutions stemming from last summer’s unrest have led to a recent series of guilty pleas as well as a sentencing.
Fagundo told the judge he is about to finish his bachelor’s degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He said he was laid off in March 2020 after working as a gallery technician at the school.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cooke told the judge Thursday that Fagundo bought fireworks, lighter fluid and other products at a department store on May 29, 2020, ahead of the George Floyd protests. The next day, Cooke said Fagundo joined with others and spray-painted a Chicago police vehicle.
The evening of May 30, 2020, Cooke said Fagundo discovered the CPD SUV in a garage at 30 E. Kinzie St. The prosecutor said Fagundo and others shattered some of the vehicle’s windows, including its rear windshield. Then, about 6:45 p.m., Cooke said Fagundo lit a firework and tossed it through the SUV’s rear window frame.
Fagundo fled when police arrived, Cooke said. The prosecutor said the vehicle was a total loss, and it cost CPD $58,125 to replace it. The judge is expected to order Fagundo to pay that amount in restitution at sentencing, giving him credit for any amount he paid in the meantime.
Another man, Timothy O’Donnell, is also charged in federal court with setting fire to a CPD vehicle while wearing a Joker mask during last May’s riots. Though that case is still pending, others have recently begun to progress through Chicago’s federal court.
Brandon Pegues pleaded guilty to a gun charge late last month, admitting he fled police near downtown early on May 31, 2020, only to fall and drop what turned out to be a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. A prosecutor said police also found a hammer on Pegues.
Also last month, a judge gave more than three years in prison to D Angelo D. Chester, who prosecutors said ran and tossed a gun after police spotted him at 9:24 p.m. on June 3, 2020 — 24 minutes after the 9 p.m. curfew Mayor Lori Lightfoot set as a result of the rioting. The judge pointed to Chester’s criminal history in handing down the sentence.
On Wednesday, Matthew Rupert of Galesburg pleaded guilty in federal court in Minnesota to setting fire to a Sprint store in Minneapolis. Rupert was arrested in Chicago on May 31, 2020 and accused by the feds of traveling to Minneapolis and then Chicago to loot and riot.