DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of New York

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 18, 2017
James P. Kennedy, Jr.
, United States Attorney
Contact: Barbara Burns

Federal Jury Convicts Rochester Man in Firebombing Case

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Taj R. Williams, 32, of Rochester, NY, was convicted after a jury trial of arson and unlawful possession of Molotov cocktails. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated that on January 18, 2015, Williams used a tire iron to shatter the front glass door of the Chili Express Mini Mart located at 989 Chili Avenue in Rochester. The defendant then removed three Molotov cocktails from a bag, each of which he lit and threw inside the store. All of the devices exploded, causing extensive fire damage to the interior structure and its merchandise.

The guilty verdict is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli; the Rochester Fire Department, under the direction of Chief John Schieber; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division.

Sentencing is scheduled for December 11, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford who presided over the trial of the case.

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New York Field Division