CLEVELAND – An Ohio man has been indicted on a federal hate crimes charge in what authorities say was a racially motivated arson at a church with a mostly black congregation.
A two-count federal indictment was filed in Cleveland late Thursday against 23-year-old Ronald Pudder of Conneaut in the northeast corner of Ohio. Officials said at a news conference Friday that Pudder is charged with felony counts of damaging a church based on bias and arson.
Pudder is accused in a midweek fire that damaged the entrance to the First Azusa Apostolic Faith Church of God in Conneaut before dawn on May 20.
No attorney is listed for Pudder in court records. He was arrested at the fire scene by police who said they noticed a suspicious car driving by slowly.