Man charged with arson in 2 fires at Las Vegas synagogue

A man who has told authorities in the past that he was homeless was charged in court Thursday with setting two fires this week at a Las Vegas synagogue.

Afshin Bahrampour, 47, was not asked to enter a plea at his first court appearance on felony arson and burglary charges stemming from a car fire late Monday outside the Chabad Jewish Center of Las Vegas and a small trash can fire earlier inside the building.

Police and a rabbi have said Bahrampour was identified on synagogue surveillance video just before both fires. He was found in a nearby shopping center while firefighters doused the car fire.

Two other vehicles also were damaged, but no injuries were reported. The wastebasket fire was put out without calling firefighters. It caused no damage to the building.

The suspect's defense attorney, Rafael Nones, declined comment about the case after the hearing.

The FBI was also examining the case, said agency spokeswoman Sandra Breault.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis set a May 25 preliminary hearing for Bahrampour, who remains jailed without bail. He could face decades in prison if convicted.

Bahrampour pleaded the equivalent of no contest last September to misdemeanor attempted arson after he was seen in security video tossing an item into a trash can that caught fire at a state office building in Las Vegas. The building has offices for the state Legislature and top state officials including the governor.

He told authorities at the time that he was homeless.