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Officials: Guilty plea in Conneaut church arson

2:25 PM, Nov 29, 2010   |    comments
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Pudder, 23, lives in Conneaut.

He is scheduled to be sentenced February 9, 2011 at 10 a.m. by U.S. District Judge John Adams.

Pudder admitted that on May 20, 2010, he set on fire the First Azusa Apostolic Faith Church of God, located at 312 Jefferson Street in Conneaut.

This church is the sole African American church in the Conneaut area.

Neighbors called police around 4:45 a.m. after seeing the church in flames. The front door was scorched, but fortunately, the flames did not penetrate the interior the church.

Investigators later determined a door had been doused with an accelerant, as had other doors on the church, but those did not catch fire.

"Crimes like these leave scars," Dettelbach said. "Not just physical scars to the building, but emotional ones, to the souls of the congregants. Doing this attack based on the parishoners' race is an act that does violence to who we are as Americans and Ohioans."

This case is being prosecuted by Patricia A. Sumner, trial attorney with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney James V. Moroney, following an investigation by the Painesville Resident Agency of the Cleveland FBI and the Conneaut Police Department.

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