Woman sentenced to probation for arson at downtown St. Paul apartment building

A judge sentenced a 38-year-old woman to three years of probation on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to setting multiple fires in a downtown St. Paul apartment building last year.

Guadalupe Fondrin, also known as Guadalupe Castillo, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree arson in a Norgaard plea on Jan. 24. Another charge of first-degree arson was dismissed.

A Norgaard plea means the defendant is pleading guilty but does not remember committing the offense. Court records say Castillo told officers on the scene that she was on methamphetamine at the time of the fires.

The judge presiding over the case stayed a 23-month prison sentence for the probation term and ordered Fondrin to pay $25,000 in restitution. Fondrin also received credit for 185 days spent in jail.

As previously reported, St. Paul Fire Department crews responded to a report of an arson at the Minnesota Building on Fourth Street East in St. Paul at around 4:20 a.m. on April 3. Officials at the scene said several fires had been set in the building’s lobby, stairwells, basement and third floor.

A witness in an apartment of the building told law enforcement that a woman, later identified as Fondrin, had come into their apartment and taken several rolls of paper towels, which were used to start the fires.

Fondrin was arrested by police after they found her standing outside the building without shoes. She had a warrant for her arrest out of Ramsey County for motor vehicle theft at the time of the fires, according to the complaint.

The damage to the building as a result of the fire was estimated to be more than $300,000, the complaint stated.