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Cincinnati-area nail salon owner sentenced to prison for placing arson device in competing salon

Southern District of Ohio, Press Release

A Cincinnati-area nail salon owner was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 46 months in prison for attempting to set a competing nail salon in Monroe on fire.

Kim Lien Vu, 46, of Liberty Township, admitted in her guilty plea in September 2023 that she conspired to commit malicious destruction via fire.

Vu, who owns her own nail salon, developed animosity towardindividuals at a competing nail salon and, beginning in December 2022, approached her employee about a plot to exact revenge on the competing salon.

Vu and her employee, co-defendant Cierra Marie Bishop, 30, of Hamilton, eventually discussed the idea of setting the other salon on fire. Bishop began work to design a remote-controlled incendiary device that could start a fire within a small box. The two women frequently texted about the plan, which they referred to as Job 1.

On Feb. 5, surveillance camera footage shows Bishop and a friend, co-defendant Makahla Ann Rennick, 19, of Hamilton, entering the competitor salon. Rennick had allegedly made an appointment for a pedicure under the name “Katelynn,” at the direction of Vu for Rennick to get the latest nail appointment she can and to “Just use another name. Sound white.” Rennick is shown receiving her nail services.

Vu was traveling to or already at a property she owned in Virginia to have a ready alibi.

During Rennick’s appointment, Bishop entered and exited the salon, looking for a place to plant the device. Eventually, Bishop walked to the restroom area in the rear of the salon and tucked the device under a salon desk before leaving.

A salon employee then found the suspected device, which smelled like gasoline. The employee opened the package, seeing that it looked like an explosive device, and took it outside near the salon’s Dumpsters. The employee later went back outside to check on the device and noticed that box had begun to catch on fire.

Monroe police officers and fire department responded to a call reporting a Dumpster fire near the salon.

Vu was in constant contact with Bishop throughout the planning of the device.

The three women were indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2023. Bishop has pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Elena Iatarola, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF); Shawn Gibson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Monroe Police Chief Bob Buchanan announced the sentence imposed April 24 by U.S. District Judge Matthew W. McFarland. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy S. Mangan is representing the United States in this case.

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