Man charged in Stella’s arson gets spun out under plea deal

The plea deal means Ferguson will serve no additional jail time.

Tyler Michael Ferguson/Hennepin County Jail

Tyler Michael Ferguson, 22, took a plea deal that dismissed an arson charge levied against him for setting fire to a seafood restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis.

Ferguson was charged with aiding and abetting second-degree arson and first-degree damage to property for his role in damaging Stella’s Fish Cafe to the tune of $82,000 in damages.

According to court documents reported on by Crime Watch Minneapolis, he changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” in exchange for a conviction on the damage to property charge and a dismissal of the arson charge.

The plea deal means Ferguson will serve no additional jail time (he was credited for 66 days already served) and pay a meager $1,000 in restitution to Stella’s — just 1.2% of the estimated damage costs.

Of the $82,000 in damages, Crime Watch Minneapolis reported that $44,000 were for condensers and $8,000 for related electrical, while the dumpster area suffered another $20,000 in damages and the camera system $7,000 to $10,000.

“These totals do not include the loss of business revenue while Stella’s was undergoing repairs,” Crime Watch Minneapolis added.

Prior to his court date, Ferguson had been freely roaming the streets because Hennepin County Judge Sarah West ordered him released on no bail. He had previously been released without bail while awaiting conviction for criminal sexual conduct.

According to surveillance footage, Ferguson and one other male entered an alley near the dumpsters outside Stella’s shortly after 3 a.m. on July 6. The first male placed an engulfed brown paper bag on top of some cardboard in the dumpster, then Ferguson helped light other items in the dumpster by adding more cardboard and moving the paper bag around.

Ferguson’s crime took place during a wave of lootings, burglaries, and property damage in Uptown following the June 3 shooting death of Winston Boogie Smith. Soon after, agitators took control of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South, but city officials and police units eventually removed the barricades and dismantled the “no-go zone.”