A Palm Desert man who tossed a Molotov cocktail into a Republican group’s office in the Coachella Valley is slated to plead guilty in federal court on Monday to a felony charge in which he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Carlos Espriu, 23, entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office last Thursday in which he admitted to firebombing the East Valley Republican Women Federated office in the 78-800 block of Highway 111 in La Quinta last May.
Espriu, who also faces state charges involving the same crime, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles on Monday before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson for a change of plea hearing. At that time, Espriu will be sentenced to a minimum of five years in federal prison, or a maximum of 20 years, according to court papers.
The defendant remains in federal custody pending sentencing.
Under the terms of the plea deal, Espriu agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempted arson of a building used in interstate and foreign commerce in exchange for having one count of possessing a Molotov cocktail dismissed.
The defendant must also repay the victim $5,426.64.
The non-injury blaze was reported about 1:30 a.m. on May 31, 2020. Arriving firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze before it could cause much damage, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Espriu used an “improvised incendiary device constructed of three bottles” that he tossed inside the building to ignite a fire, according to federal prosecutors. He wore a mask and used a metal baseball bat to break the building’s windows in order to gain entry, court papers say.
He posted on Twitter sometime before the firebombing: “I wanna go burn s— n get hit with tear gas,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
East Valley Republican Women Federated offered a reward for the suspect’s capture. Tips generated from the reward appear to have helped authorities identify Espriu as the suspect.
But Espriu’s legal troubles are far from over. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged him with three felonies — one count of arson of a non-dwelling and two counts of possessing destructive or explosive devices. He also faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a device designed to accelerate the fire.
Espriu faces up to 15 years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged in state court, according prosecutors.
Court records did not immediately reflect when he would return to Riverside County to stand trial, but officials previously indicated it would be after his federal matter was resolved.
He has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County.