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Minnesota man charged with bridge fire ordered to pay $1 million

The charges stem from September, when Ryan Curtis Johnson was arrested near Detroit Lakes, Minn., after Otter Tail County authorities received a report of arson at a wooden bridge that links the

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A fire burns on a bridge on County Highway 41 near Star Lake in Dent, Minn., in the early morning of Sunday, Sept. 6. Submitted photo
Submitted photo
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FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — A Dent, Minn., man has been sentenced in Otter Tail County District Court to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty in March to a charge of possessing ammunition or a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime.

Ryan Curtis Johnson, 43, also pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree arson of a building or property valued at more than $1,000 and received a stay of adjudication on that charge.

At a sentencing hearing Monday, May 24, Judge Kevin Miller gave Johnson credit for having already served 261 days behind bars. The judge ordered Johnson to pay restitution of $1,042,989, with income from prison earnings to go toward payment.

A charge of possessing, making, transporting or storing an explosive or incendiary device was dismissed.

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Ryan Curtis Johnson

The charges stem from September, when Johnson was arrested near Detroit Lakes, Minn., after Otter Tail County authorities received a report of arson at a wooden bridge that links the west and east sides of Star Lake.

According to court documents:

Investigators found several 20- and 30-pound propane cylinders under the bridge, and one that appeared to have exploded was floating in the water.

A matchbook was found lying in the road near the bridge.

Witnesses told officers they had suspicions about Johnson starting the fire, including one witness who said Johnson had made comments about blowing up the bridge near his house.

A search of Johnson's house revealed ammunition and a shotgun, according to court documents.

Dent is about 25 miles south of Detroit Lakes and about 8 miles northeast of the Star Lake bridge.

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