Man Pleads Guilty to Burning Albany County GOP Office
A Laramie man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to breaking into and burning the Albany County Republican Party office in September.
Kellen Michael "Van Gogh" Sorber, who was 27 when arrested, entered the plea before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper.
In exchange for his plea, the prosecution and defense agreed Sorber would spend three years, eight months in prison. The maximum penalty could have been 20 years imprisonment for the crime formally known as malicious damage to property (used in interstate commerce) by means of fire.
Skavdahl said the proposed 44-month sentence is firm because federal law has abolished parole.
During the hearing, Sorber politely answered the judge's statements, and responded, "unfortunately, your honor," when told about the consequences of being a convicted felon.
Skavdahl, who said he is not a party to the plea agreement and could reject it, set Sorber's sentencing for March 15.
The case began at 3:25 a.m. Sept. 6, at the GOP headquarters, 214 E. Ivinson Ave., when the Laramie Fire Department responded to a call about a fire and extinguished it.
Investigators found two pieces of a cinderblock inside and a third piece on a trash container in the alley, a partially consumed cigarette, the burnt remains of a folding camping-style chair, and burnt remnants of a soft drink can box, according to the criminal complaint.
The ATF laboratory was able to determine a dominant DNA profile.
Surveillance video also was able to help investigators identify a person of interest -- Sorber.
They began watching Sorber, and one was able to contact him and surreptitiously obtain DNA from a beer can he had. That DNA evidence was consistent with that found on the cigarette and the three pieces of cinderblock.
An investigator determined that Sorber had his cell phone within one-tenth of a mile from a cell tower next to a cafe near the GOP headquarters.
On Oct. 16, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant and obtained DNA directly from Sorber.
U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen filed the criminal complaint on Oct. 23.
Sorber then went missing, but was apprehended two days later and has been in custody since.