A man was ordered to pay $ 12 million (£ 8.6 million pounds) for setting fire to a Minneapolis police station during riots in May last year.
Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 23, who was found guilty of arson in December, will face up to four years in prison.
Robinson’s lawyer stated that “there is no realistic possibility” that his client would be able to fine him.
Three other men, who also pleaded guilty, will be sentenced later.
What happened at the police station?
Last May, thousands took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest the death of George W. Floyd, a police officer.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Shavin, who was later fired and found guilty of murder, was filmed kneeling for more than nine minutes in Mr Floyd’s neck during the arrest.
Mr. Floyd’s death, the ensuing protests, and weeks of riots, looting, arson, and violence in the city.
Among the culprits was Dylan Robinson, about 120 miles from Minneapolis, Brainerd, Minnesota.
Prosecutors say Robinson lit a Molotov cocktail, which was later thrown by another man at the Minneapolis third district headquarters, setting the building on fire.
A surveillance video at the site shows Robinson burning another “firing device” held by another person and later setting it on fire inside the station near the first floor staircase.
“Mr Robinson chose to withdraw from the legal protest, but instead resorted to violence and destruction,” said Anders Falk, acting US attorney general. The fire “endangered lives and contributed to the spread of lawlessness in Minneapolis.”
Robinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. Three others, 27-year-old Bryce Michael Williams, 25-year-old Davon De-Andre Turner and 23-year-old Branden Michael Wolf, pleaded guilty to the same charge as part of a plea deal. They have yet to be convicted.
Robinson’s lawyer, who represents all four men, said the 23-year-old had been unfairly separated from thousands of other rioters last year.
“He is serving his sentence for the thousands of other people who took part,” attorney William Moses told the New York Times on Wednesday. “Many others, much more guilty than Mr. Robinson, have not been found.”
How will the fine be paid?
In addition to his four years in prison, Robinson was fined $ 12 million in damages.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, compensation will be charged in a variety of ways, including salary, bank accounts, retirement benefits, and a monthly salary plan, usually set by a judge.
Robinson will be able to pay only “a small sum for that,” said his lawyer, Mr. Moses, adding that he expects the other three defendants to be ordered to pay part of the damages.
“None of the defendants can afford to pay a significant amount of money,” he said.
The US Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how Robinson could afford the fine.
FBI Minneapolis Field Office Officer Michael Paul said in a statement that the fine was fair.
“The danger posed by the defendant in this case was very real,” he said.
The verdict “sends a clear message” that when someone commits a violent act that violates federal law, they will be held accountable, Mr. Paul said.
Local prosecutor’s Tasha ernern told the BBC that Robinson could be remanded in custody for up to 20 years after his release.
This is not the first time a US court has imposed such a large sum. In 2018, a judge in Oregon ordered a 15-year-old to pay more than $ 36 million (27 27 million) after he confessed to a forest fire that had been raging for months.
The 15-year-old’s lawyer called the money “absurd” and “absolutely stupid”.
In his ruling, the judge said the figure was “a clear proportion to the offense” as it did not exceed the financial damage caused by the fire.
But the judge also acknowledged that the Oregon teenager would not be able to pay the full amount, citing state “security locks” that allow juvenile delinquents to stop paying after 10 years if they complete a probationary period and do not commit any other crime.