Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) is pushing for answers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) after the agency dropped arson charges against a leftist rioter, according to a letter obtained by Breitbart News.
Victor Sanchez-Santa was arrested and charged with arson in federal court in June of 2020 after the then-19-year-old allegedly ignited a fire that burned an NYPD vehicle during the George Floyd riots.
The federal complaint against Sanchez-Santa states:
“On June 9, 2020, at approximately 1:20 a.m., SANCHEZ-SANTA stopped his car beside a marked NYPD vehicle on West 42nd Street in Manhattan. He got out of his car, took a cloth glove in his hand and held the glove to a flame until it ignited. He then put the burning glove underneath the NYPD vehicle, and got back into his car, leaving the glove burning beneath the police car.”
Following his arrest, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman praised federal and local law enforcement officials for their quick response and assistance in identifying the suspect.
Despite the fact that arson carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison — and a maximum sentence of 20 years — President Joe Biden’s DOJ threw out the case in November of 2021.
“Based on a review of the evidence in the case and information pertaining to this defendant acquired subsequent to the filing of the Indictment, the Government has concluded that further prosecution of VICTOR SANCHEZ-SANTA would not be in the interests of justice,” wrote U.S. Attorney T. Josiah Pertz.
In throwing out the case, the DOJ claimed that “deferring prosecution” would be in the best interests of both the defendant and the United States.
Rather than sentencing Sanchez-Santa to prison time, prosecutors let the rioter and arsonist off with nine months of probation and mandatory anger management classes.
Responding to this news, Banks requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland send “all evidence in the case and information pertaining to this defendant acquired subsequent to the filing of the Indictment” that contributed to the DOJ’s decision to drop charges to his office by June 24.
The Indiana Republican asserted that the DOJ’s decision “fits its pattern [of] lenient treatment of left-wing rioters.”
Banks went on to call attention to another case in which the Biden administration was lenient on left-wing rioters — when two Manhattan attorneys who were arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at an NYPD car during the BLM riots had charges against them dropped and a “much more lenient” plea deal entered.
“According to reporting from Politico, after you assumed office, the Justice Department showed a ‘newfound willingness to resolve the Portland protest cases without criminal convictions,’ and according to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department has declined to prosecute about half of all the rioters arrested on federal charges in Portland,” Banks said.
The GOP congressman also called out the hypocrisy of the Biden administration for being lenient with left-wing rioters while prosecuting every January 6 defendant — including peaceful protesters — “to the harshest extent possible.”
“Under your leadership, the Department of Justice is operating under a two-tiered system of justice,” Banks stated. “Violent rioters who are likely to vote Democrats are often released with a slap on the wrist, or less, while January 6th defendants are prosecuted to the harshest extent possible.”
“The unequal application of justice is an injustice, and your politicization of federal law enforcement is an attack on the basic American principle of equal justice before the law,” he added.