Alleged Galleria arsonist faces federal charges

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Federal prosecutors are taking over the case against a man who allegedly set fire to the Galleria in October, charging him with two counts of arson, officials announced Thursday. Alexander Piggee, 23, now faces federal charges that combine his alleged arsons at the Galleria as well as at the Wal-Mart on Antelope Road the same day, Oct. 21, according to a release. “After consulting with law enforcement partners in Placer and Sacramento counties, it was determined that a federal prosecution in which both arsons could be charged and prosecuted in a single proceeding was appropriate in this case,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in the statement. Once the Placer County District Attorney’s office drops its charges against Piggee, authorities said, the suspect will move from Placer County jail to federal custody – likely Sacramento County jail, which has a contract with federal prosecutors. The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Sacramento, reportedly carries sentences of five years minimum and 20 years maximum for each of the two counts. The county prosecutor’s office said in the statement that it handed over the case because it exceeded county lines and because “the sentencing range available in federal court is commensurate with the seriousness of the crimes.” Piggee is scheduled to appear in the Placer County jail courtroom in Auburn at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday for an update on his mental evaluation. ~ Staff report