Homeless man sentenced for threatening to burn down federal courthouse

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EAST ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A 41-year-old homeless man was sentenced Thursday for threatening to burn down the federal courthouse in East St. Louis in July 2014, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen Wigginton said.

Oliver Dotts was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

According to court documents, Dotts walked into the federal courthouse on July 8, 2014 and asked to speak with U.S. deputy marshal, saying he was “having bad thoughts” and “not thinking right.” When asked to explain himself, Dotts said he was thinking about getting some gasoline and burning cars in the parking lot before burning down a nearby post office.

Dotts repeated the threats to the deputy marshal and an agent from the Department of Homeland Security.

Dotts explained that he didn’t want to hurt anyone, but wanted to draw attention to his acts so he could be placed “in therapy or a program” to help him with substance abuse programs and get him back on medication for mental health issues.

Prior to walking to the courthouse, Dotts told authorities he tried to gain admittance to a nearby mental health facility. And despite telling the staff at the mental health facility that he would do something dangerous, Dotts said he was turned away.

Dotts was taken into custody at the courthouse without incident.