Xiaoqin Yan, a woman convicted of arson and possessing a firearm by an illegal alien, was sentenced to eight and a half months in prison on federal charges.

Yan, a Chinese woman, entered the First Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery on Sept. 30, 2021, and set multiple fires, causing significant damage.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan S. Ross said evidence presented during the trial showed Yan had multiple encounters with church staff before the incident.

"During Yan’s arrest at a residence in Montgomery on October 4, 2021, agents found duffel bags identical to the ones seen in the church surveillance videos, as well as clothing matching the type worn by the suspect, gas containers, starter logs, and lighters," Ross stated. "Officers also found a handgun. At the time of the arson and her arrest, Yan was in the United States illegally due to overstaying her non-immigrant visa and, therefore, could not lawfully possess a firearm."

She was found guilty on the charges in 2023.

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