A Sylmar man was charged Tuesday in a federal grand jury indictment alleging he deliberately set Hollywood’s Pizzeria Mozza restaurant on fire during the civil disturbances that roiled the city in late May.
Mario Ernesto Alvarado, 42, is charged with one count of arson following his July 16 arrest on a federal criminal complaint. Alvarado — who was released on $25,000 bond — is due back in Los Angeles federal court on Aug. 10 for arraignment.
If convicted, Alvarado would face a sentence of five to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
During the civil disturbances that occurred in Los Angeles on May 30, Alvarado allegedly walked into a commercial building at the corner of Melrose and Highland avenues that housed Pizzeria Mozza and its related business, Mozza2Go, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The restaurants are co-owned by acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton.
Once inside the building, Alvarado maliciously poured a flammable liquid on the restaurant floor and set it on fire, according to the indictment.
Arson investigators determined that the fire caused $500,000 in structural damage to the shop, with an additional $50,000 in fire damage to restaurant merchandise and property, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.
At the time of the fire, the restaurant and shop were closed due to a curfew order.
On June 29, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department released a statement seeking information leading to the arrest of several arsonists suspected of starting fires across Los Angeles during civil disturbances that followed the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, which set off nationwide protests.
Alvarado was identified by a member of the public as one of the alleged arsonists, according to court documents.