Man Convicted of Arson of Alexandria Businesses Sentenced in Federal Court

Published 11:19 am Friday, October 22, 2021

ALEXANDRIA, La. – Jasmine Roberson, 31, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been sentenced by United States District Judge Dee D. Drell to 60 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, on arson charges.

According to information presented in court, on April 20, 2019, firefighters with the Alexandria Fire Department responded to reported fires at a strip mall on Elliott Street in Alexandria, Louisiana. When they arrived at the location, they observed flames in a store-front window and saw a hole in the window. The flames had subdued in that area, but as they moved through the business, they located flames through an open doorway and extinguished the fire. Evidence at the scene led firefighters to suspect arson.

On May 3, 2019, firefighters were called once again to reported fires at the same strip mall on Elliott Street in Alexandria. When they arrived, they found that another business had its front window broken and soot was visible on the ceiling above the window. Firefighters found an unbroken glass bottle that was used to fashion a Molotov cocktail that was filled with gasoline and a rag stuffed in the charred bottle.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began an investigation into both fires and discovered that they were related. After conducting interviews of witnesses, ATF agents learned that the owner of the store that suffered damage from the second fire was in a romantic relationship with an inmate at Hunt Correctional Center. The victim indicated that the boyfriend/inmate had given her money to help start her business but when he learned that her business was not doing well financially, he told her he was going to burn it down.

Further investigation revealed that the boyfriend/inmate contacted Jasmine Roberson and a co-conspirator to set the fires so he could collect insurance money on the failing business. The first fire on April 20, 2019 was started on the wrong business so Roberson went back on May 3, 2019 and attempted to set fire to the correct business location.

A DNA analysis was performed on the glass bottle found at the scene and Roberson was identified as a potential match for DNA found on the bottle used at the fire. Roberson admitted to agents that he attempted to set fire to both businesses.

The ATF and Alexandria Fire Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Aaron Crawford prosecuted the case.