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Somali restaurant firebomber, facing nearly $269K in restitution

Somali restaurant firebomber, facing nearly $269K in restitution, requests attorney to dispute amount

FARGO — An East Grand Forks, Minn., man serving 15 years in federal prison for firebombing a Somali cafe in Grand Forks filed a motion seeking an attorney who can appeal his mandated restitution Monday, court records show.

Matthew William Gust, 27, pleaded guilty to arson and committing a hate crime in federal court after throwing a makeshift Molotov cocktail into Juba Cafe, a Somali restaurant, on Dec. 8, 2015.

 As part of Gust’s punishment, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ordered Gust pay $268,927 in restitution. Gust can work in prison and pay the restitution in $25 monthly increments.

But in a handwritten motion calling for a court appointed attorney Monday, Gust said he was unaware of the restitution payments until receiving a letter April 4. He wants to appeal the amount owed.

 “If you can please get me a court-appointed attorney, I am in need of one,” he wrote. “I got no moneys, no property, I have nothing. “
 
Initially, Gust faced a felony charge in Grand Forks District Court, but the case later was moved to federal court, where he was charged with malicious use of explosive materials. At first, he pleaded not guilty to charges related to the fire, but in April 2016 he reversed course and pleaded guilty to one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of interfering with a federally protected activity, a hate crime charge based on the Somali origin of the restaurant’s owners and primary customers.

The court has yet to respond to the request, which was filed Monday, May 1.

Source: Andrew Hazzard,  Bismarck Tribune

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