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Man charged with setting The Drew on fire makes first court appearance

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 20:42:37-04

The man charged with setting fire to The Drew and causing $10 million in damage made his first court appearance Thursday, according to U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.

26-year-old Andrew Joseph Sanders from Las Vegas faces one count of arson, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to a federal criminal complaint, surveillance footage allegedly captured Sanders trespassing on The Drew property on March 1 this year. The footage showed Sanders near the area where the man-made fires were set.

The criminal complaint also says that Sanders engaged in a physical fight with a firefighter as he was leaving the area, which delayed firefighters' efforts to put out the flames. 

After fleeing the scene, Sanders was arrested by officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The Department of Justice says most of the fire damage happened within 3,000 square feet of the unfinished ballroom space on the 11th floor of a tower. A second fire was also set in another ballroom space.

DOJ officials also say that Sanders allegedly admitted to trespassing at The Drew and being on the 11th floor where the fire was started.

The Drew, which is still under construction, was formally known as the Fontainebleau. The name was changed in February after the property was purchased for $600 million.