LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man pleaded today to a federal criminal charge for deliberately setting Hancock Park’s Pizzeria Mozza restaurant on fire during the civil disturbances that struck the city in May 2020.
Mario Ernesto Alvarado, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of arson of a commercial building.
According to his plea agreement, during the civil disturbances that occurred in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020, Alvarado walked into a commercial building on Melrose Avenue that housed Pizzeria Mozza and its related business, Mozza2Go. After entering the business, Alvarado sprayed and lit an ignitable liquid. The resulting fire caused more than $300,000 in damage to the business and was extinguished by firefighters.
During the execution of federal search warrants at the time of Alvarado’s arrested in July 2020, law enforcement recovered the hat and t-shirt that Alvarado wore on the night of the arson, as well as a can of lighter fluid located in the back seat of the Ford Focus that he drove to and from the scene of the crime on the evening of May 30, 2020.
United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner has scheduled a June 27 sentencing hearing, at which time Alvarado will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
This matter was investigated by the SAFE LA Task Force, which includes members of the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Santa Monica Police Department, the Beverly Hills Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys Bruce K. Riordan and Joseph D. Axelrad of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.