Special to the Enterprise
Leon Buu Dam, 48, a naturalized American citizen from South Vietnam, pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood on last week to two charges relating to the firebombing of Cindy Nails, a business operating on South Tallahassee Street in Hazlehurst. The bombing resulted in the total loss of the contents of the business, totaling over $21,000.
United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver stated, “Whatever his motive, firebombing a commercial business is never the solution. At a minimum, this Defendant now faces a 15 – year prison sentence. It is unfortunate that he will now be forced to surrender the rights that he earned on his quest for citizenship. His arson days are now extinguished.”
Evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing showed that Cindy Nails caught fire just after business hours on December 7, 2010. The fire destroyed the interior of the building and all its contents. Arson investigators discovered a ball-style trailer hitch, an alarm clock, and a bundle of matches wrapped in duct tape, along with evidence of a flammable accelerant inside the building. The investigation revealed that Dam had purchased a trailer hitch and alarm clock, just like those found in the business, along with a quart of Coleman kerosene, at a nearby Wal-Mart a few weeks earlier. Surveillance video from nearby businesses on the night of the bombing placed Dam and his vehicle at the business that night.
Dam now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Mr. Tarver noted that there is no parole in the federal system. He is presently in the custody of the United States Marshal.
The case was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the ATF, the Georgia State Fire Marshall, and the Hazlehurst Fire Department. Assistant United States Attorney Cameron Heaps Ippolito is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.