Colorado man held in Nevada solar plant fire unfit for trial
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge has ruled a Colorado dentist unfit for trial following his arrest last month in what authorities characterized as a terror attack on a solar power facility serving Las Vegas Strip casinos.
Mohammed Reza Mesmarian’s attorney, Nick Pitaro, said Wednesday that two psychiatrists found his client was unable to understand the criminal charges against him, including terrorism, arson, destruction of property and escape.
Clark County District Court Judge Christy Craig ordered Mesmarian, 34, to remain in custody at one of Nevada’s forensic psychiatric facilities pending further evaluation, Pitaro said.
Mesmarian is accused of ramming a car through a fence and setting the vehicle afire early Jan. 4 at a sprawling solar array in the desert northeast of Las Vegas. He was arrested later in a recreational vehicle at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The alleged attack followed several incidents and arrests involving electrical substations in states including Washington, Oregon and North Carolina and concerns expressed by federal officials about security of the nation’s electricity transmission network.
Police said Mesmarian denied attempting an act of sabotage; told investigators he favors renewable, clean energy; said he thought the solar array was a Tesla facility connected to “the network;” and his actions “represented moving forward in the world.”
The array, owned by Chicago-based Invenergy, serves several Las Vegas Strip properties operated by MGM Resorts International. A casino company official said properties switched to the statewide electric grid and hotel guests and gamblers saw no effect.
Mesmarian lived in Aurora, Colorado, where state records showed he faced Dental Board discipline and his dentist license was restricted last July. Court records show that he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in October.