Prison time for Rochester man who burned buildings following George Floyd’s murder in 2020

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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A judge on Tuesday sentenced a Rochester man to 6 1/2 years in federal prison after he admitted burning three buildings during the violence that followed the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Jose Felan Jr., 36, apologized for setting fires at Gordon Parks High School in St. Paul, a nearby Goodwill store and 7 Mile Sportswear. Felan told the court on Tuesday he “got caught up in the chaos and made the biggest mistake of my life.”

The sentence from federal Judge David Doty is more than the five-year mandatory minimum but less than the seven-plus years prosecutors requested.

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Doty also ordered Felan to pay $34,000 in restitution to Gordon Parks High School and $5,000 to Goodwill.

An investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives identified Felan after receiving tips from the public and comparing Goodwill’s surveillance video to body camera footage from earlier in the year of an interaction that Felan had with Rochester police.

Police in Mexico arrested Felan and his wife Mena D. Yousif, 23, in February 2021. Yousif later pleaded guilty to aiding an offender and is due to be sentenced in January.

According to court documents, Yousif was pregnant at the time they fled, and the couple hid in Mexico for about eight months. In a filing earlier this year, Yousif’s attorney Bruce Rivers wrote that Mexican authorities took custody of her child. Yousif was allowed to fly home to Minnesota, but “it would be many more months before her son was allowed to return.”

Felan and Yousif are the last of 16 people to face federal sentencing in connection with the 2020 arsons.

Most are in federal prison for terms ranging from two to 10 years. In February, Doty sentenced Mohamed Hussein Abdi, Felan’s other co-defendant, to five years of probation and ordered that he share in the restitution payments to the high school.