KEYSTONE COPS – ST. MARY’S SHERIFF DETECTIVES FAILED TO MAINTAIN SURVEILLANCE OF BURNED 7-ELEVEN FOR ATM GRAB DESPITE A WARNING FROM TASK FORCE THAT ARSON WAS ONLY A RUSE FOR AN ATM GRAB
COURT NEWS – EX-CONS STEPHEN KENNEDY AND DONNELL KELLY Indicted for Spree of Robberies & Arson in 7-Eleven Stores; Tossed Molotov Cocktails Near Clerks & Customers; Returned to Burglarize ATMs from Closed Stores
JACKASS FEDERAL MAGISTRATE AJMEL A QUERSHI ALLOWS DANGEROUS FIRE-THROWING THUG STEPHEN KENNEDY LOOSE PENDING TRIAL
PROLOGUE: As America struggles with rising crime rates and increasingly alarming rates of murder and violence, this news story is of the capture of a couple of armed arsonists. The two ex-cons and perhaps others will be charged as accomplices, specialize in robbing convenience stores, setting them on fire with Molotov cocktails and forcing them to shut down and turn off electric power, and then returning later to burglarize the stores of ATMs loaded with cash exposes two significant problems.
BY KEN ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
- First was the witless actions of Keystone Cops of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department and then the goofball antics of a Jackass Federal Judge who allowed the criminals to be released from jail pending trial.
- Second, Erek L. Barron, the United States Attorney for Maryland, and his Special Assistant Joshua A. Rosenthal, assigned to the case, offered overwhelming evidence in opposition to the Judge releasing the defendants before trial. The overwhelming evidence of the suspects’ guilt was ignored by the Jackass Judge, who allowed Stephen Kennedy to stay free. It is unclear whether Donnell Kelly was allowed freedom before trial.
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Stephen Phillip Kennedy, 33, of Temple Hills, Maryland, and Donnell Kelly, 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 felons possessing a firearm and an explosive device, respectively. Kennedy is charged with carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. The indictment was returned on February 22, 2023, and was unsealed on March 2, 2023, upon the defendants’ arrests.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron announced the indictment.
According to the 10-count indictment, from at least January 2021 to January 2022, the defendants conspired to commit arson at 7-Eleven convenience stores to obtain cash in ATMs in the stores.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that Kennedy and Kelly traveled to 7-Eleven locations. At the same time, 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.
TEMPLE HILLS 7-ELEVEN
2. January 16, 2021 – Dallas Drive 7-Eleven
On January 16, 2021, at approximately 10:13 p.m., the PGFMO responded to the 7-Eleven located at 3411 Dallas Drive, Temple Hills, Maryland 20748, following a report of individuals throwing suspected incendiary devices. The investigation revealed that two unidentified suspects entered the 7-Eleven. The first suspect was an African-American male wearing a black Nike hoodie with the hood up, black pants, gloves, and a surgical-style face mask. He carried a black plastic bag that contained the suspected incendiary devices. The second suspect was an African-American male wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, a beige jacket, dark-colored pants, gloves, a surgical-style facemask, and glasses. The incendiary devices were thrown inside the 7-Eleven and at propane tanks outside the building. The 7-Eleven was open and occupied at the time of the fire event. The suspects fled the scene in a silver Infiniti G35 (“the Infiniti”) with a dead driver’s side headlamp.
Between January 18-19, 2021, at an unknown time, the suspect’s forced entry into the closed store by cutting the chain that secured the front door. The suspects compromised the two ATMs inside the 7-Eleven and removed approximately $138,840 in cash.
On January 26, 2021, surveillance footage at Bradbury Heights Elementary School in Capital Heights, Maryland, recorded a silver Infiniti G35 with a dead driver’s side headlamp driven into the school parking lot. A thin black male matching Kelly’s build is seen retrieving a red gas can from inside the car, pouring it into the passenger compartment, and setting the car on fire. The Infiniti was registered to Kelly’s girlfriend, whom he has proposed as a third-party custodian.
RUTHLESS ROBBERS THREW MOLOTOV COCKTAILS INSIDE A STORE NEAR CLERKS
3. May 29, 2021 – Auth Road 7-Eleven Second Attempt
On May 29, 2021, at approximately 1:10 a.m., the PGFMO responded to the 7-Eleven located at 6404 Auth Road, Suitland, Maryland, 20646, following a report that multiple suspects had ignited a fire in the store. Surveillance video showed that two suspects entered the 7-Eleven.
The first suspect was an African-American male wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, a black jacket, black pants, gloves, and a black face covering. He carried a black plastic bag that contained the suspected incendiary devices. The second suspect was an African-American male wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, a black jacket, black pants, gloves, and a surgical-style facemask. Two incendiary devices were deployed inside the 7-Eleven. The 7-Eleven was open and occupied at the time of the fire event.
4. July 25, 2021 – Three Notch Road 7-Eleven
On July 25, 2021, at approximately 4:39 a.m., the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal (“OSFM”) responded to the 7-Eleven located at 28240 Three Notch Road, Mechanicsville, Maryland 20659, following a report of a fire and robbery. The investigation revealed that unidentified suspects used incendiary devices to ignite a fire inside the 7-Eleven. The first suspect was an African-American male wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, black pants, gloves, and a black face covering. He carried a black plastic bag that contained the suspected incendiary devices. The second suspect was an African-American male wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, black pants, gloves, and a surgical-style face mask.
The first suspect demanded that the store clerk provide him with the cash from the register. While making this demand, the first suspect continued to deploy incendiary devices, placing the store clerk in fear for his safety. The store clerk then gave the suspect between $50 and $200 from the register. The 7-Eleven was open and occupied at the time of this fire event. DNA was recovered from one of the deployed incendiary devices and ultimately matched to defendant Kennedy.
ST. MARY’S SHERIFF DETECTIVES SNOOZED
WHILE GANG RETURNED TO LOOT ATMS FROM TORCHED MECHANICSVILLE 7-ELEVEN
Despite warnings from a metropolitan area task force that the robbery and arson of the 7-Eleven located in the median strip of Rt. 5 in Mechanicsville was only the first step and that detectives should keep the closed and burned hulk of the store under surveillance, St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron failed to assign detectives to keep watch. As a result, the accused returned to the location and stole the ATM, still loaded with cash. Detective Warren Forinash was assigned the investigation for the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department and didn’t lose any sleep waiting to nab the gang when they returned.
Prosecutors stated that on July 27, 2021, at approximately 1:22 a.m., the suspects returned and forced entry into the store by cutting the chain that secured the front door. The suspects compromised the ATM in the 7-Eleven and took approximately $100,000 in cash. DNA was recovered from a Gatorade bottle consumed during the ATM theft, which also matched the defendant, Kennedy. Surveillance video obtained from nearby businesses showed that the burglary suspects arrived and departed in an older-model conversion van.
ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA 7-ELEVEN – Kennedy’s DNA spread around crime like glitter
5. January 3, 2022 – Alexandria, VA 7-Eleven
On January 3, 2022, at approximately 4:28 p.m., ATF (Washington Field Division) and the Alexandria Fire Marshal’s Office officials responded to the 7-Eleven located at 2 South Jordan Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22304, following a report of a fire in the store. The investigation revealed that two suspects entered the 7-Eleven.
The first suspect was an African-American male wearing a black jacket with the hood up, black pants, gloves, and a black face covering. He carried a black plastic bag containing the suspected incendiary devices.
ALEXANDRIA COPS SET UP SURVEILLANCE, WAITING FOR THE GANG TO RETURN TO ROB THE ATM MACHINE, UNLIKE THE KEYSTONE COPS OF ST. MARY’S SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT WHO SLEPT THRU THE BURGLARY
The second suspect was an African-American male wearing a back hoodie with the hood up, a dark-colored sweater over the hoodie, dark-colored pants, gloves, and a black face covering. The unidentified suspects deployed incendiary devices in the store. The 7-Eleven was open and occupied at the time of this fire event. During the overnight hours of January 4, 2022, into January 5, 2022, the Alexandria Police Department (“APD”) set up surveillance in the vicinity of the 7-Eleven.
The officers observed unidentified suspects attempting to enter the store. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on January 5, 2022, APD officers attempted to apprehend the suspects. The suspects fled in two vehicles: a black Audi S5 sedan bearing D.C. license plate GJ6470 (“V-1”) and a black Audi Q5 SUV bearing MD license plate 2EN0371 (“V-2″). V-2 eluded police in the area of Route 1 in Fairfax County, Virginia. V-1 crashed in Washington, D.C., and no suspects were apprehended by law enforcement. Law enforcement officials executed a State of Virginia search warrant on V-1 and inside found numerous tools, including 36” bolt cutters, prying tools, gas-powered saws, and other various tools and safety equipment such as knee pads and respirators. Kennedy’s DNA was found on a saw recovered from the crashed V-1. V-2 was registered to Kennedy’s girlfriend, whom he has proposed as a third-party custodian. Kennedy’s girlfriend reported that V-2’s license plate had been stolen following the chase.
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. Federal District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The U. S. Attorney’s Office reported that the defendants each had an initial appearance on March 2, 2023, 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. This could be the first time in recorded history that suspects agreed to remain detained; perhaps the government prosecutors have the ability to promise ruthless criminals a steak dinner and bedtime turndown service. Maryland Court records show that Kennedy’s private home detention monitoring was terminated on March 1, 2023.
Amazingly, given the lethal nature of the crimes allegedly committed by Kennedy, he was released by Magistrate Judge Quereshi on the condition that he surrender his passport to the Court and agree to hang around the “DMV area.” “DMV” is shorthand some Maryland officials use to refer to the District, Maryland, and Virginia. Given that 7-Eleven operates stores in the DMV area, the stores and their clerks remain vulnerable to attack by the ex-con alleged perpetrator of the series of arson-robberies committed and now released by an uber-liberal judge who has never been through a selection process that includes voters or was appointed by the President with the consent of the United States Senate.
The United States District Court judges for the District of Maryland announced on the court website their appointment of Ajmel A. Quereshi to the United States Magistrate Judge position. Quereshi took the oath of office during an informal ceremony on April 18, 2022. United States Magistrate Judges are appointed by the district judges for a term of eight years and are eligible for reappointment to successive terms. The position to be filled by Quereshi became open when U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day announced his retirement effective April 14, 2022, after more than 25 years of service with the Court. In anticipation of Judge Day’s retirement, a merit selection panel composed of attorneys and other members of the community reviewed all qualified applications before recommending a slate of candidates to the full bench for review. Quereshi was selected from this slate.
ULTRA LIBERAL JUDGE QUERESHI IGNORED A PLEA FROM THE PROSECUTOR TO REFUSE BAIL FOR THESE DANGEROUS CRIMINALS – BOTH EX-CONS
PLEA TO COURT TO DENY BAIL
“Kelly has a significant criminal history, including two convictions for crimes of violence, namely, Maryland robbery. See United States v. Dickson, No. 19-4226, 2022 WL 2340553 (4th Cir. June 29, 2022); see also United States v. Johnson, 945 F.3d 174 (4th Cir. 2019). In 2009, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court (case no. CT081569A), Kelly was convicted of Maryland robbery under Md. Crim. Law § 3-402, for which he was sentenced to five years imprisonment with all but 72 days suspended and three years of supervised probation. Then in 2011, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court (case no. CT110484A), Kelly was convicted of another Maryland robbery under Md. Crim. Law § 3-402, for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with all but five years suspended and three years of supervised probation. Kennedy also has a significant criminal history. In 2011, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court (case no. CT110797A), Kennedy was convicted of Maryland attempted armed robbery, for which he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with 11 years suspended and three years of supervised probation. Then in 2017, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court (case no. CT170965X), Kennedy was convicted of Maryland possession of a controlled dangerous substance, for which he was sentenced to six months confinement with 179 days suspended and two years of supervised probation, during which he was violated for an unknown reason in October 2019.”
D. Nature and Seriousness of the Danger to any Person or the Community
There is no circumstance in which throwing incendiary devices at buildings occupied by innocent bystanders can be tolerated. Nevertheless, Kelly and Kennedy committed these profoundly dangerous crimes over at least a year, destroying property and risking the lives of those who operate and frequent these stores. It should be noted that convenience stores are crucial to many communities that lack access to food resources – which is especially the case in Prince George’s County.
E. Risk of Flight
Although Kelly and Kennedy have remained in the local area since the execution of the January 2022 search warrant at Kennedy’s home, now that they are facing at least 30 years mandatory imprisonment – and potentially more – along with the knowledge that the Government has obtained heavily probative DNA evidence of their connection with these crimes, such exposure may prove an irresistible incentive to flee justice were they not to be detained in this matter.
When considering all the applicable factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), there are no conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of the community or Kelly and Kennedy’s future appearance were these defendants to remain on release. For the reasons set forth herein and others to be argued at the detention hearing, the Government requests that the Court order that Kelly and Kennedy remain detained pending trial
Maryland court records reveal that eight criminal indictments in Prince George’s’ County Circuit Court issued on March 29, 2022, charge Stephen Phillip Kennedy (DOB 12/11/1991) of 3313 Dallas Drive, Temple Hills, Maryland, with possession of ammo, possession of a firearm by a person with a felony conviction, possession of a firearm when involved in drug trafficking, manufacturing and distribution of drugs and related crimes. After a bond review, Kennedy was incarcerated in the Prince George’s County Jail on January 10, 2022. Thomas Mooney of Upper Marlboro is listed in Maryland court records as Kennedy’s attorney in the state charges.
Kennedy pleaded guilty to possession of drugs in Prince Georges County Circuit Court on October 27, 2017, in a plea deal with Prince George’s States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and was sentenced to six months in jail.
Stephen Phillip Kennedy pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery in Prince George’s Circuit Court on December 9, 2011. He picked up a prison sentence of fifteen years with eleven years suspended as part of the plea deal.
Stephen Phillip Kennedy was charged in the District of Columbia Superior Court with a bench warrant issued by Judge Robert R. Rigsby for failure to appear to face charges of assault on a police officer and possession with the intent to distribute drugs in an arrest warrant issued on December 23, 2013.
Federal Judge Peter J. Messitte signed an order on March 1, 2023, asserting that Donnell Kelly is indigent and appointing Teresa Whalen as his attorney to represent him in the criminal indictments pending in Federal Court.
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.