California Man ‘Mad at God’ Sentenced for Setting Church Building on Fire

Court-GavelCONCORD, Calif. — A California man who admitted to setting a church building on fire six years ago as he was “mad at God” because of the hardships in his life has been sentenced to over three years in prison.

Following an indictment in March 2015 and a subsequent plea deal, Hugo Scherzberg, 48, plead guilty in January to damaging religious property with fire after he used gasoline and a lighter to cause harm to the Church of the Living God in Pittsburg in 2010.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Scherzberg was “mad at God for ruining his life.” He grew up with an alcoholic father and struggled with fitting in socially. His mother died eight years ago of a lung ailment, and he himself was diagnosed with kidney disease. Scherzberg had difficulty finding work, was evicted from his apartment and consequently struggled to find shelter.

He had sought to turn himself in to police for the 2010 arson just to have a place to stay, reports state. He had thrown a rock in the window, poured gasoline inside and then lit the fuel on fire with a lighter.

Scherzberg said that he targeted the facility because it had the words “living God” on it and because it was “readily accessible.” Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church had also been meeting at the location.

“Scherzberg admitted that his actions caused significant damage to the entire church building and property within the building, and that almost the entire church building required reconstruction,” the Department of Justice outlines.

Over $490,000 in insurance claims have been submitted, for which Scherzberg has agreed to make restitution. He was sentenced to 41 months behind bars on Monday by U.S. Distict Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr.

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The maximum penalty for setting fire to a religious building is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater), plus restitution costs.

Sherzberg has been serving an 18-month prison term for another incident, as he allegedly set fire to Pilgrim Community Church in San Francisco in November 2014. He had poured gasoline on the front door of the facility and was pointed out to police by those who witnessed him on the premises.

As previously reported, in September 2014, an Arizona man was taken into custody after he urinated on and burned a Bible on the steps of a gospel rescue mission. He allegedly told police that he targeted the location because it was a place of Christian worship and that he was “cursing the Christians.”


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  • bowie1

    I wonder how Scherzberg is going to make restitution as he has promised to do.

  • disqus_O2BUmbLecp

    The name “Scherzberg” indicates that he is from a Jewish background. Moses Law or Jewish laws forbid intoxication from drinking wine/alcohol or other psychotropic drugs.(LEV.10:9) Muslim Sharia Law also forbid alcohol drinking, plus gambling.
    …….So, this back-slidden Jewish family had forsaken the God of Abraham n Moses(= Lord Jesus Christ – EXO.3:14/JOHN.8:58), their Jewish roots n moral foundation, ended up in suffering/calamities n blamed God, but not himself n his parents.(cf: DEUT.28)
    .
    Christians should also be careful about ignorantly breaking Moses/ /God’s Law, whether partially(= for Gentile Christians) or fully(= for Jewish Christians), as per ACTS.15:28-29 n HEB.10:26-31, or they may end up like the Gentile Corinthian Christian incest-sinner of 1COR.5:1-5. While suffering the destruction of his flesh by Satan(= similar to Job, his wife n family), this sinner/evildoer/law-breaker might hv cursed God n died = losing his salvation, like the wife of Job.
    .
    God permitted Satan to afflict Job n his family bc he had ignorantly sinned or broke God’s Law by making a defiling offering to God, in order to “insure” his hard-earned prosperity from the likely sins of his spoiled sons.(JOB.1:5 & 3:25) Job did this bc he ignorantly thought that his sons’ sins/evil-deeds would cause him to lose all his prosperity, which the later-revealed law of Moses at EXO.20:5-6 says otherwise.

    In short, if Christians want a good n long life on earth, they had better obey God’s/ /Moses Law, either partially or fully, even though they hv been justified for eternal life in heaven by their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as “once saved, always saved”(cf: parable of the sower at MATT.13:18). Christians who ignorantly n unrepentantly break the Law will likely end up in dire straits n cursing God(= blasphemy).

  • Gena B

    If he was angry at God, burning a church is a waste of time. Did he ever try asking God to ‘save’ him? Or maybe just try knocking on a church door and asking for help?