DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Antoinette T. Bacon
, United States Attorney

Schenectady Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of a Molotov Cocktail

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Joel Malek, age 43, of Schenectady, New York, pled guilty today to possession of a “Molotov cocktail” on June 5, 2020, and admitted to using the improvised incendiary device to set fire to a vehicle in Schenectady.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

As part of his guilty plea, Malek admitted that on June 5, 2020, he and a co-conspirator approached a vehicle in Schenectady, at which time the co-conspirator broke the driver-side rear window with a hammer, and then Malek ignited a Molotov cocktail and threw it into the vehicle through the broken window, which started a fire and caused an explosion in the vehicle; no one was injured.

Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon stated: “Joel Malek firebombed a vehicle, damaging a Schenectady resident’s property and frightening a community already on edge from the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death in Minneapolis.  Today’s plea holds Malek fully accountable for his brazen and cruel act. I commend the investigators who worked quickly to solve the firebombing and arrest this dangerous man.”

“The defendant’s use of a destructive device not only endangered the lives of our community members but also jeopardized our first responders that had to extinguish and secure the scene,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito.  "I thank them for their efforts, as well as those of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for partnering with ATF in sending a clear message that individuals committing violent acts in our communities will be held responsible for their actions."

Sentencing is scheduled for October 7, 2021 before Senior United States District Judge Norman A. Mordue. As a result of his conviction, Malek faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Malek has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 to the owner of the vehicle.  He has been in custody since his arrest on October 6, 2020.

This case was investigated by the ATF and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the Schenectady Police and Fire Departments, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Belliss and Alexander Wentworth-Ping.


New York Field Division