Evelyn Duenas Cangco, a 49-year-old woman accused of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that a Chinese man set her on fire in San Antonio, pleaded guilty yesterday as part of a plea deal with the U.S. government.
“I burned myself,” Cangco said when asked by U.S. District Court for the NMI chief judge Ramona V. Manglona to tell the court in her own words what she did.
The offense of making a false statement to the FBI carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a three-year period of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
Cangco will be sentenced on Jan. 24, 2014, at 9am.
She was allowed to remain free until her sentencing.
David Banes served as court-appointed counsel for the defendant.
Assistant U.S. attorney Rami Badawy did not object to maintaining Cangco’s release but expressed concern about Cangco’s mental competency.
The defendant admitted that she is currently undergoing medical treatment and counseling at the Community Guidance Center for depression and anxiety.
Manglona said that although there is a concern for Cangco’s mental competency, there is no evidence that she is suffering from some type of mental illness.
Cangco told the court that she lied to the FBI about the fire case but that she was not lying about somebody sexually harassing her in a separate incident.
In citing the factual basis of the plea agreement, Badawy said that Cangco lied to the FBI on April 2, 2013, when she stated that an unknown Chinese man shoved her from behind and threw gasoline on her back on March 26, 2013, in front of the San Antonio Market.
The prosecutor said that Cangco stated that she struggled with her assailant, who was holding a green lighter in his hand. He said Cangco stated that the man then ignited the lighter and set her on fire before fleeing on foot, heading south on Beach Road.
Badawy said the defendant made these statements to FBI special agents on April 2, 2013, before admitting that the statements were false.
Badawy said that Cangco later admitted to filling a jar with gasoline from a can at her home before driving to the San Antonio Market, where she doused herself with gasoline, then lit herself on fire.
Police investigation showed that Cangco was admitted to the Commonwealth Health Center for second-degree burns on both hands and her entire back.
Police said Cangco ran into the store, screaming for help. Store employees said she had no shirt on and was wearing only a bra and that her pants were on fire. The employees extinguished the flames and called 911 for police assistance.