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A Los Angeles man accused of setting fire to an apartment complex under construction in 2014 pleaded no contest today. The fire melted freeway signs and damaged nearby buildings after
Dawud Abdulawali, 57, entered his plea to a single felony count of arson of a structure, and admitted to using an accelerant to start the fire that caused more than $3.2 million worth of damages.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus immediately sentenced Abdulawali at his request.
The fire "could have burned down half of Los Angeles if it had moved to other buildings" the judge said during sentencing. "It was very dangerous."
A restitution hearing has not been set by the court, however, Deputy District Attorney Joy Roberts says that damages could reach in the neighborhood of $100 million.
No one was injured in the blaze.
The December 8th, 2014 fire, destroyed the newly built 75,000-square-foot DaVinci apartment complex near Temple Street and Fremont Avenue. Abdulawali used gasoline on the fourth floor of the seven-story complex, which helped the blaze spread rapidly across the complex. The intense heat broke 160 windows at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters along with shutting down the 110 and 101 freeways.
Abdulwali was arrested in May of 2015 by the Los Angeles Police Department's Anti-Terrorism Division. The investigation included agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.