By T.A. Hendrickson
Daniel Nogueira, 27, pleaded not guilty on April 14 to felony charges connected to an attack in 2019 on the homeless encampment under the 2 Freeway in Eagle Rock and a resulting fire that scorched 45 hillside acres in Eagle Rock and Glendale.
Specifically, Nogueira has been charged with arson, using an explosive device to injure/destroy and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon against two occupants of the encampment, according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. In the alleged assaults, the deadly weapon was a firework mortar, according to the complaint.
The charges against Nogueira were a long time coming.
The fire was set on August 25, 2019 and Nogueira, the son of Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce President Michael Nogueira, was arrested on August 31, 2019. He was released from custody the next day after posting a $1 million bond and scheduled to appear in court on September 26, 2019. But no charges were filed and the day before the scheduled court appearance, then District Attorney for L.A. County Jackie Lacey asked police and fire officials to keep investigating the case.
According to the L.A. Times, the investigation into Nogueira was completed in May of 2020, but prosecutors held off filing charges because of potential legal complications posed by Covid-related justice-system delays. The criminal complaint outlining the arson and assault charges was filed on March 22, 2021.
After Nogueira entered his not-guilty plea on April 14, the judge permitted him to remain out of custody since he had previously posted the $1 million bail, according to a spokesperson for the D.A. Nogueira’s lawyer, Alan Jackson, also argued that Nogueira did not pose a flight risk.
The judge ordered Nogueira to stay away from homeless encampments in L.A. County and not to possess fireworks or explosives.
Nogueira is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on May 26. If convicted as charged, he faces up to 10 years and four months in prison.
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.