LAS VEGAS, Nev. (702 Times, NV Globe) – According to a police arrest report obtained on Wednesday, the Colorado dentist who is accused of starting a fire that damaged a transformer at a solar power array outside of Las Vegas last week claimed he wanted to support clean energy and denied sabotaging the project.
Following his arrest on Jan. 5 at a trailer home parked at a campsite near Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir outside of Las Vegas, Mohammed Reza Mesmarian told police detectives, “I burned it.”
According to Mesmarian’s arrest report, “Mesmarian admitted he knew setting a vehicle on fire could cause damage to the (transformer) unit, but stated he did it for the big message, larger picture, and greater good.” He explained that clean energy served the greater good.
In anticipation of mental health evaluations and a court hearing on Feb. 1, Mesmarian, 34, remains in jail without bail. He could be charged with felony terrorism, arson, and other offenses that could land him in state prison for decades if he is found fit to stand trial.
He told police that the fire that destroyed Chicago-based Invenergy’s Mega Solar Array early on January 4 “represented moving forward in the world,” according to the report. Man held in Las Vegas solar array attack for competency exams.
Mesmarian told the police that he had been in Las Vegas for several days over the New Year’s holiday. He thought the transformer was connected to “the network” and that the solar farm about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Las Vegas was a Tesla facility.
Contractually, the solar array supplies electricity to several MGM Resorts International properties on the Las Vegas Strip. The casino company switched to the state’s electric grid after Invenergy shut it down. According to a representative of MGM Resorts, there was no impact at Strip properties.
According to Mesmarian, he was born in Iran. Nick Pitaro, his attorney, stated on Wednesday that his client holds U.S. citizenship and has completed college. Public records in Colorado spell his name Mohammad after his first name. He claimed in his professional profile that he attended the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado.
Pitaro declined to provide any additional information regarding Mesmarian’s case until the mental competency hearing in Las Vegas state court.
Several attacks and arrests involving electrical substations in states like Washington, Oregon, and North Carolina, as well as a federal regulator’s order for a review of security standards at the nation’s electricity transmission network, led to Mesmarian’s arrest in Nevada.
Additionally, a national terrorism advisory bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security of the United States lists critical infrastructure as one of the potential targets of violence.
The allegations leveled against Mesmarian are comparable to a case from Utah in which a man was arrested in 2016 and later given a federal prison sentence for damaging an electric substation with a rifle, resulting in a power outage in rural Kane and Garfield counties.
According to court documents, Stephen Plato McRae spent several months targeting power facilities in remote Utah and Nevada as part of what he called a “master plan” to shut down power in the West.
Cops in Las Vegas: Man accused of setting fire to power plant faces terrorism charge McRae boasted to an informant that he was “stopping global warming” and opposed fossil fuels. According to the court papers, he planned another act of sabotage, known as “the grandmomma,” to shut down a larger power substation in Nevada.
In Mesmarian’s case, a burned-out Toyota Camry registered to his mother in Idaho contained laptop computers and an iPhone that was linked to Mesmarian.
According to his arrest report, Mesmarian was seen on security video positioning the car and rigging it to burn. He then sat and watched the fire for about 15 minutes before leaving. Mesmarian stated to the police that he had no regrets and “felt peace.”
At the time, there were no employees present at the vast facility. When they got there the next morning, they found damage.
After allegedly attempting to evade arresting officers twice, Mesmarian now faces charges of elude. “He wanted to experience the feeling of what Black Lives Matter protesters felt when they were tazed by police,” he later told the police. Mesmarian was not the target of a stun gun, according to police.
Wednesday, repeated phone calls to Mesmarian’s Aurora, Colorado, child dentistry and braces practice went to busy signals.
The Colorado Dental Board restricted Mesmarian’s dentist license in July, according to the records, and Mesmarian filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on October 5.
According to the records of the United States Bankruptcy Court, he claimed $1.4 million in liabilities, primarily business debts related to equipment leases but also a roughly $20,000 student loan debt. He claimed personal assets worth $17,601
A complaint made in October 2021 against Mesmarian’s practice regarding “potential unsanitary conditions including improper disposal of infectious waste and uncapped syringes” led to the Dental Board’s disciplinary action.
Mesmarian was asked to complete a year’s worth of continuing education courses by the board. Wednesday, a representative of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies stated that it was unclear whether he had done so. Mesmarian’s legal representative stated that he no longer represents him.
The Associated Press contacted an attorney who represented Mesmarian in the bankruptcy case, but they did not immediately respond.
Credits: FOX 5 VEGAS
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