A U.S. District Court jury has convicted a Loxley, Ala., man in the Oct. 6, 2004, arson of a dance club in Mobile, Ala.
Richard Morrison, 50, was found guilty Oct. 27 after a four-day trial presided over by Chief U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade. The fire destroyed the Bronco Bills club, which previously operated at 4625 Spring Hill Avenue in Mobile. Morrison faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Acting U.S. Attorney Deborah Rhodes, Special Agent in Charge James Cavanaugh of the ATF Nashville Field Division and Chief Stephen Dean of the Mobile Fire Department announced the verdict. The investigation focused on Morrison’s financial motivation for torching the club. Evidence presented at trial stated that Morrison’s property was a financial hardship because of his mortgage debt and was facing foreclosure.
“Morrison learned through a verdict by his peers that arson is not an acceptable problem solver,” Cavanaugh said. “Arsonists like Morrison put the community, law enforcement officers and firefighters in an obvious life or death situation. Arson is a crime which attempts to deceive, but good investigative work presents the story and the jury decides guilt or innocence.”
A detention hearing held recently determined that Morrison will be held in federal custody rather than be released until he is sentenced. Morrison’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2006, in U.S. District Court in Mobile.
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