A Sylmar man pleaded guilty Monday to a federal arson charge for setting Hollywood’s Pizzeria Mozza and Mozza2Go on fire during the civil disturbances that roiled the city two years ago.
Mario E. Alvarado, 44, faces at least five years in federal prison when he is sentenced on June 27, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As protests against police brutality were underway on May 30, 2020, Alvarado walked into the commercial building at the corner of Melrose and Highland avenues that housed Pizzeria Mozza and its related takeout business, Mozza2Go, poured a flammable liquid on the restaurant floor and set it on fire.
At the time of the fire, the restaurant and shop co-owned by acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton were closed due to a curfew order.
Arson investigators determined that the fire caused $500,000 in structural damage, with an additional $50,000 in fire damage to restaurant merchandise and property.
A month after the Mozza fire, 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 killing of George Floyd by 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.