A 29-year-old man was arrested and charged with setting a marked NYPD vehicle on fire late last month, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.
Sam Resto, of Queens, was arrested Thursday and charged with arson. He appeared in court Friday afternoon, where he was ordered held. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Attorney information for Resto was not immediately known.
“Today’s criminal complaint not only seeks justice for the alleged torching of an NYPD van (sic) parked in a busy Manhattan neighborhood but answers for a crime that put innocent New Yorkers in considerable danger,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.
According to the complaint, the arrest and charge stem from an incident that took place in the morning hours of July 29, when Resto was allegedly captured on video setting ablaze an unoccupied NYPD Ford Fusion parked on West 83rd Street near Columbus Avenue in Manhattan.
On the video, according to the complaint, Resto approached the vehicle, smashed the window with a blunt object, poured gasoline into the interior and set the vehicle on fire before fleeing east towards Central Park.
Allegedly, the NYPD subsequently recovered a backpack in the park belonging to Resto containing, among other things, clothing similar to items Resto wore earlier that morning, a Guy Fawkes mask, a red jerry can that smelled of gasoline, a hammer and lighters.
“This Office will vigorously prosecute criminals whose actions endanger the community, police officers and first responders," said Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme in a statement.
According to FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Resto's alleged actions put the public in harm's way.
“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. Deliberate criminal activity like the type alleged today puts both first responders and private citizens at risk, it is an affront to everything this city is supposed to be about,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney said in a statement.