A federal warrant has been issued for Martin Pang in the warehouse arson that killed four firefighters last month, the Los Angeles Police Department has told The Seattle Times.
Pang is named in a federal warrant for interstate flight to avoid prosecution, The Times reported in a copyright story Saturday.
The warrant says Pang is being sought in an arson fire that killed four people, Los Angeles police spokeswoman Lorie Taylor told the newspaper late Friday. A department spokesman said Saturday he had no information on the warrant but would forward queries about the search effort to Taylor.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is assisting in the search, said ATF spokesman John D’Angelo in Los Angeles. Bureau spokesmen in Los Angeles and Seattle did not immediately return calls Saturday. Seattle ATF officials had refused comment Friday.
Pang denies any role in the Jan. 5 arson at the Mary Pang Food Products warehouse owned by his adoptive parents, says his attorney, John Henry Browne of Seattle.
“He told police on the Saturday following the fire that he had nothing to do with the fire. That was his statement, and he stands by his statement,” Browne said earlier this week.
Browne left the city Friday for a week’s vacation and could not be reached for comment on the warrant. He had said previously that he was in frequent contact with Pang and would advise him to return to Seattle if a warrant was issued.
Seattle police, King County prosecutors and federal prosecutors have refused to confirm that a warrant was issued, though police said Thursday an arrest was expected soon. Police spokesman did not immediately return calls Saturday.
The case is taking its toll on investigators.
“We’re as frustrated with this thing as anyone else,” police Capt. Larry Farrar told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Friday.
“If we could do anything to get the hounds off our door, we’d do it. My detectives are exhausted,” Farrar said.
Authorities say Pang apparently has little money and is moving from friend to friend in the Los Angeles area, the P-I reported Saturday.
With a federal warrant, no extradition proceedings would be required to return Pang to Washington state. A magistrate would need only to confirm his identify, The Times said.
Authorities suspect that Pang, 39, arranged to have the Mary Pang Food Products warehouse burned down for his financial benefit. Pang is the adopted son of warehouse owners Mary and Harry Pang, and an associate has told The Times and investigators Pang believed he could get part of an insurance settlement or control of the property as a result of the blaze.
A federal warrant also would give authorities more time to bring charges against him. If he were arrested on state arson or murder charges, he would have to be tried within 60 days if he remained in custody, or in 90 days if he were released on bail, The Times said.
A source close to the investigation says Pang moved many of his personal items out of the warehouse and into a local storage facility before the fire, The Times reported.
Pang moved to California in 1993.
Published reports this week have portrayed Pang as a man who used his parents’ money to live in the fast lane, but ran into financial troubles.
Pang earned as much as $55,000 a year when he worked for his parents’ company in the 1980s. The company also paid Martin tens of thousands of dollars annually in expenses, according to an accountant for the Pangs.
The Times said most of that money was spent on fancy cars and car racing. The rest went to such things as house payments, income-tax payments, attorneys’ fees, trips and expenses for the karate classes Pang taught in his basement or garage, the Times reported.
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