Suspect charged in Fort Pierce mosque arson sentenced to 30 years

Posted at 6:58 AM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-07 02:47:10-05

The Port St. Lucie man who pleaded no contest to setting a mosque on fire last year in Fort Pierce was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday.  

Joseph Schreiber was also ordered to pay restitution.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said Schreiber previously admitted to them he set the mosque on fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce and was “embarrassed” to have committed the crime.

He said he wasn't motivated by hate but fear and anxiety that St. Lucie West would become another "Manhattan World Trade Center attack or Boston Bombing."

The 32-year-old had been held in jail without bond since his September arrest a few days after the fire.

The fire caused significant damage to the Islamic Center.

“Finality like today bring the criminal justice system full circle,” St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said in a statement. “The men and women of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, along with our partners at the St. Lucie County Fire District, FBI, ATF, FDLE and Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office worked tirelessly on this case and we thank them for their efforts.”

Schreiber addressed the court during his sentencing and said, in part:

“To all the Muslim communities on the face of the Earth, make peace with America and make peace with Israel. Stop the attacks. And stop the killing.

The violence here in the United States and in Israel must stop. And as a result of the 9/11 attack in New York, your honor, from the asbestos and burning ashes from the aftermath of the horrific attack, my mother is dying from stage 4 cancer with a year or less to live. And I will never see my mother alive again.

And I am terribly sorry to the imam, for what I have caused and I am terribly sorry for the loss of the Muslim community’s mosque in Fort Pierce on Midway Road.”

The judge ordered Schreiber to pay $10,000 in restitution with the possibility of further restitution, as well as court costs.