Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Two Men Facing Federal Indictment in Maryland for an Arson Conspiracy Targeting Convenience Stores
Allegedly Set the Stores on Fire, Then Went Back Later To Steal Money From the ATMs
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Stephen Kennedy, age 33, of Temple Hills, Maryland, and Donnell Kelly, age 33, of Washington, D.C., for conspiracy to commit arson, arson affecting interstate commerce, commercial robbery, and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, in connection with a series of convenience store robberies. Kennedy and Kelly are also charged with being felons in possession of a firearm and an explosive device, respectively, and Kennedy is charged with carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. The indictment was returned on February 22, 2023, and was unsealed today upon the arrests of the defendants.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci; St Mary’s County Sheriff Steven A. Hall; Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Chief Tiffany D. Green of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.
According to the 10-count indictment, from at least January 2021 to January 2022, the defendants conspired to commit arsons at 7-Eleven convenience stores so that they could obtain cash contained in ATMs in the stores. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Kennedy and Kelly traveled to 7-Eleven locations while they were open for business and deployed explosive devices to set fire to the buildings, and on at least one occasion, demanded the contents of the cash register. The defendants allegedly burned the stores to force their closure and shut off power to the security cameras, which would enable them to return to the unguarded locations to burglarize the ATMs unhindered. The indictment alleges that this resulted in losses to the ATM company of at least $249,000. To conceal the evidence of their crimes, Kennedy and Kelly allegedly burned vehicles used in the arson attacks and/or burglaries and/or made false police reports regarding stolen license plates.
If convicted, Kennedy and Kelly each face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the arson conspiracy and each of four counts of arson affecting interstate commerce; a maximum of 20 years in prison for an armed commercial robbery; a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and up to life in federal prison for using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence; and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for being felons in possession of an explosive device and firearm. Finally, Kennedy faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for carrying an explosive during the commission of another federal felony. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The defendants each had an initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ajmel A. Quereshi. Kelly and Kennedy agreed to remain detained pending detention hearings scheduled for Friday, March 3, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m., respectively.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the ATF Washington Field Division, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam K. Ake and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rosenthal, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psn and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.