A Chicago man has been sentenced in federal court to three years of probation after he admitted he set fire to a Chicago police vehicle during the May 2020 riots downtown here.
The sentencing of Jacob Fagundo appears to be the first in Chicago’s federal court to directly address the downtown violence that followed the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“It’s just a shame that you did this,” U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said, agreeing with Fagundo’s defense attorney that the crime appeared to be an aberration in Fagundo’s behavior.
The judge noted that Fagundo has no criminal history and has dealt with mental illness in the past.
Fagundo pleaded guilty in April to obstructing law enforcement amid a civil disorder. Though he originally faced charges in state court, the feds wound up filing charges against him in late March.
Federal prosecutors said Fagundo should spend between eight and 14 months in prison for committing a crime “against the fabric of our democratic society while it was being pulled apart.”
But his defense attorney explained that Fagundo saw a police officer “split open the head of [a] young girl with whom he was — at that time — peacefully protesting” in Chicago on May 30, 2020.
That’s when attorney Robert Kerr said Fagundo’s “personal shortcomings caught up with him,” prompting him to throw a lit firework into a Chicago police vehicle. Kerr also wrote in a court memo that Fagundo hadn’t been “on top of [his] mental health like [he] should’ve been.”
Kerr also noted that Fagundo participated in May graduation ceremonies at the School of the Art Institute, where he came to be regarded not only “as an employee, student, mentor, role model, and friend of the highest character, he came to be known as [an] incredibly talented artist.”
When Fagundo pleaded guilty in April, Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Cooke told the judge that Fagundo had purchased 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 a CPD SUV in a garage at 30 E. Kinzie St. The prosecutor said the vehicle’s windows, including its rear windshield, were shattered. 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. Gettleman ordered Fagundo to pay that amount in restitution.
Another man, Timothy O’Donnell, is also charged in federal court with setting fire to a CPD vehicle during the unrest while wearing a “Joker” mask. He is set to go to trial Feb. 7.