Man Convicted of Hacienda Heights Church Arson

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A 35-year-old man was found guilty July 9 of torching St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights in 2011, causing an estimated $9 million in damage, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Gregory Shiga

Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose of the Target Crimes Division, Arson Section, said Gregory Yusuke Shiga of Hacienda Heights was convicted of all five counts — aggravated arson, arson of a structure, arson of an inhabited structure, possession of flammable material and second-degree commercial burglary.

The jury deliberated less than an hour before returning the guilty verdicts, which included finding the allegations of damage in excess of $3 million, use of an accelerant and multiple buildings burned.

Shiga returns for sentencing on July 19 before Judge Thomas Falls. He’s facing up to life in state prison.

Rose said Shiga broke into the church’s sanctuary just after midnight on April 16, 2011. He saturated rolls of toilet paper with a flammable material and placed them around the inside of the church. He also used a device to saturate the structure’s walls and ceiling with an accelerant.

Shiga was arrested on May 14, 2012, in Los Angeles following a year-long investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.

UPDATE: On July 19, Shiga was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison and ordered to pay $8.9 million in restitution.

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