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Articles Posted in Federal Crimes

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hammer-802296__480-300x225The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently announced that a 55-year-old former MVA employee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer identification documents without lawful authority.  The identification documents at issue were Maryland driver’s licenses, and now the former employee from Anne Arundel County faces up to 15 years in prison for this fraud related felony.  According to facts presented at the plea hearing, the female defendant worked at the Largo MVA branch office in Prince George’s County and conspired with a co-worker and a male co-defendant to issue fraudulent Maryland licenses for a fee.  The co-defendant is a 36-year-old man from Virginia who also entered a guilty plea and is awaiting sentencing.  It appears that the co-defendant was the one who met with individuals seeking fraudulent licenses and accepted cash payments ranging from $800 to $5,000.  He then forwarded the information, including fraudulent documents to support the creation of a Maryland driver’s license, to the two MVA employees.  The defendant and her co-worker then created the fake licenses at the MVA branch and were paid in cash and gifts by the male co-defendant.  Per the plea agreement, the defendant received at least $25,000 in cash and gifts for her role in producing at least 276 fraudulent driver’s licenses.

The defendant’s MVA co-worker was not named in the press release, which means he/she has not been charged or has a sealed criminal complaint pending.  It could also mean the unnamed co-worker has been cooperating with law enforcement.  Two agencies were mentioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as heading up the investigation.  The first was the MVA’s Office of Investigations and Internal Affairs, which is not a traditional law enforcement agency.  Rather, the office conducts its own internal investigations about potential frauds regarding licenses, compulsory insurance, vehicle registrations, unlicensed vehicle sales and suspended or revoked driving privileges.  The internal affairs agents then forward their findings to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.  In this case the MVA’s internal affairs office forwarded its findings over to the Baltimore office of Homeland Security Investigations.  Homeland Security pays close attention to all state and federally issued ID cards, so it’s no surprise that a fraud of this magnitude was prosecuted in federal court.  Sentencing is currently set for the beginning of August at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt.  In addition to potential prison time the former state employee also must pay $25,000 in criminal restitution.  The Blog will follow this case and the co-defendant’s case and may post a follow-up article in the future.

Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in fraud charges such as counterfeiting, identity fraud, credit card crimes and public fraud.  He also has extensive experience representing clients in misdemeanor charges such prescription fraud and possession of fictitious government ID card (fake ID charges).  Fake ID cases are also commonly charged as misrepresentation of age to obtain alcohol, and Benjamin has successfully defended dozens of these cases.  His two main priorities are keeping his clients out of jail and making sure they do not walk out of court with a criminal record.  Benjamin has achieved numerous dismissals in fake ID cases, and then has assisted his clients in filing for immediate expungement of their cases from the public record.  In addition to fraud charges, Benjamin also represents clients charged with theft, unauthorized removal of property, failure to return a rental vehicle, misconduct in office and all other white collar crimes.  Contact Benjamin anytime at 410-207-2598 for a free consultation about your case.  Benjamin has represented clients in all 23 counties in Maryland plus Baltimore City, and has defended cases in the Baltimore and Greenbelt federal courts.

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pills_money-300x199Back in February of 2020 a 33-year-old man from Waldorf was found guilty of several drug and firearms offenses in the Greenbelt federal courthouse.  It took more than two years for the case to go to sentencing, and the wait did not turn out to be in the defendant’s favor, as he was sentenced to 40 years of incarceration.  The lengthy sentence was handed down yesterday for charges including distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of firearm by a convicted felon.  The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred back in 2017, which included two drug deals that resulted in the overdose deaths.  The government was able to establish sufficient evidence to prove the charges through text messages, phone records, surveillance video and live testimony from multiple witnesses who purchased narcotics from the defendant.  A few months after the two overdose deaths law enforcement was able to secure a search warrant for the defendant’s Waldorf apartment.  The defendant was arrested on the day of the search and seizure in April of 2018, and has been held in custody without bail since that time.

Upon execution of the search warrant law enforcement recovered five firearms including a loaded .45 caliber handgun that was found in a backpack next to 121 individually packaged baggies of fentanyl.  These facts supported the jury’s guilty verdict for the charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which is a commonly charged offense in Maryland state courts as well as federal courts.  The government was also able to establish that the defendant had prior felony convictions that prohibited him from possessing firearms.  Police also seized over 200 grams of heroin/fentanyl mix, 40 grams of cocaine, 12 cell phones, $22,000 in cash, digital scales, money counters and jewelry including a Rolex and diamonds.  All of these factors tended in prove that the defendant was involved in a large-scale narcotics distribution operation in Southern Maryland, but the 40-year sentence was undoubtedly due to the two overdose deaths that the jury felt were caused by the defendant.

A few months after the defendant’s trial his co-defendant from St. Mary’s County was sentenced to 12.5 years in federal prison for distribution of fentanyl.  As part of the plea the co-defendant admitted his distribution led to the overdose deaths of same two individuals, though he did not actually plead guilty to the offense of distribution resulting in death.  It is likely that the co-defendant cooperated with law enforcement in exchange for his relatively lenient sentence, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release did not directly say that he was called as a witness during the main defendant’s trial.

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money-943782_960_720-300x225The U.S. Attorney’s office recently announced that a 31-year-old Montgomery County man has been arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, distribution of controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  A criminal complaint was filed against the defendant on March 4, 2022 and he was arrested on March 7.  The Germantown man was ordered to be held without bail at his detention hearing in the Greenbelt federal courthouse two days after his arrest.  According to the sworn affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the defendant was identified as a suspected narcotics and firearms dealer.  In February of this year the defendant sold guns and drugs to an undercover law enforcement officer three times in Montgomery County.  The sales allegedly included more than 45 grams of crack cocaine, gel caps containing heroin and fentanyl and numerous firearms including multiple ghost guns.  The term ghost gun is used to describe any privately made firearm that does not have a serial number and cannot be individually identified or traced.  These weapons have become a point of focus for law enforcement over the last few years, and will continue to be a major issue for state and federal legislators.

In addition to the three alleged sales in February, the defendant and the undercover law enforcement officer also met a fourth time.  During this meeting the defendant allegedly sold the cop three fully assembled Glock style handguns for a total of $3,000.  The sale was observed by additional law enforcement surveillance units, and memorialized by several calls and text messages.  In addition to the four meetings, the defendant also apparently admitted to the undercover officer that he could not legally purchase a firearm due to a previous felony conviction.  The defendant faces up to 10 years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm and up to 20 years for distribution of controlled substances.  He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  This federal offense is almost identical to the Maryland state law that prohibits the possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.  The government is not required to prove that the firearm was actually used or brandished during the drug trafficking crime.  Rather, all that is required is for the government to prove a nexus or connection between the gun and the drugs.  Courts have consistently held that drug dealers possess firearms to protect themselves against theft and robbery, which makes it difficult for the defense to argue that the guns and drugs are not related.  A drug trafficking crime includes all felony drug charges such as possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing and distribution. Despite the use of the term trafficking, there is no requirement that the government prove the defendant was a volume dealer or drug kingpin for this law to apply.

The Blog will continue to follow this case and many other federal gun and drug prosecutions.  We may post a follow up article on this case depending on the outcome so stay tuned.  If you or a loved one has been charged or is being investigated by the ATF, FBI, DEA or any other federal or state law enforcement agency contact Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in drug crimes and weapons charges, and is available 7 days a week to explain what defenses may be available in your case.  He handles charges including wear transport or carry of a handgun and illegal possession of a regulated firearm, and practices in all state and federal courts in Maryland.  Benjamin can be reached at 410-207-2598 and is also licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

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pills_money-300x199This week in the Greenbelt federal courthouse a 35-year-old man from Saint Mary’s County pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  According to facts presented by the government at plea agreement, three individuals traveled from Calvert County to St. Mary’s County in order to purchase narcotics from the defendant on March 1, 2021.  The three individuals then returned to Calvert County, where two of them ingested the narcotics they had just purchased.  One of the drug users became unresponsive after ingesting the narcotics, and the other two administered Narcan and called 911 after also performing CPR.  First responders were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead on the scene.  Police came to investigate and were unable to recover the rest of the narcotics after they were discarded in the woods by the remaining two individuals.  The medical examiner ultimately concluded the death was caused by fentanyl and alcohol intoxication.

An investigation, which likely included statements made by the two remaining individuals and cell phone data, led police to the defendant in St. Mary’s County.  A search warrant was executed on his Lexington Park address 11 days after the drug deal and subsequent deadly overdose.  Law enforcement recovered a host of contraband including 30 plus grams of a mixture containing fentanyl, heroin and acetaminophen.  They also recovered plastic baggies, cutting agents and a scale that law enforcement would have testified was evidence of drug distribution.  In addition to the drugs and paraphernalia, police also seized a Polymer 9mm “ghost gun” handgun with a 30-round extended magazine loaded with 21 rounds.  Additional magazines and ammunition were seized as well as over $7,000 in cash. The drugs were tested at the crime lab and the gun was test fired by the ATF, and both yielded positive results.  The defendant is a convicted felon after being found guilty of possession with intent to distribute narcotics back in 2020.  He was on probation for that offense and just received a violation of probation sentence of 3.5 years.

Making matters worse for all involved, the man committed these acts while on pre-trial release for another offense out of St. Mary’s County.  It looks like that offense was for accessory after the fact, which carries a punishment that depends on the primary charge but is capped at 5 years.  The exception being that accessory after the fact to first degree murder carries a 10-year maximum penalty.  The defendant was actually wearing his pre-trial release GPS ankle monitor when police showed up to execute the search warrant, which is clearly not a good look for our continued fight to have defendants released pending trial in favor of being held without bail.

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225A 37-year-old man from Baltimore City was recently sentenced to 9 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges.  After serving his sentence, which under federal law does not have the possibility of parole, the defendant will be placed on 3 years of supervised release.  This case is another example of a crime that was originally charged in state court, but eventually picked up and prosecuted by the feds.  There does not appear to be any indication that the defendant was a large-scale dealer or that he had been under investigation by law enforcement, and there were no aggravating factors that made this violation particularly egregious.  On the other hand, the feds have consistently been delivering the message that any felon who possesses a firearm in Baltimore will be subject to federal prosecution, and thus a harsher sentence.  9 years without parole is certainly a harsh sentence for a non-violent offense, but it is hardly a surprising sentence considering the climate in Baltimore right now.

According to the plea agreement the man and several associates were standing on a city sidewalk when a vehicle containing Baltimore Police detectives drove by.  As the BPD patrol unit made a U-turn to approach the group, the defendant apparently walked away from the group in a manner that seemed to indicate he was armed. Police stated the defendant kept his “right arm stiff against his body” as he walked away, which is a common phrase that law enforcement uses when attempting to establish justification for a weapons search.  Detectives then exited their vehicle and began to walk toward the defendant, likely to conduct a pat down for weapons.  The defendant elected not to cooperate with whatever the BPD was attempting to do, and he took off running.  Police stated that the defendant threw a firearm with his right hand while he was running away, and they eventually apprehended him in the area.  Upon placing him under arrest police discovered 42 capsules of heroin, 33 capsules of fentanyl, 29 vials of cocaine and several baggies of marijuana.  They also eventually found the handgun along with an extended magazine that was discarded during the chase.

This case presents an interesting issue regarding the legality of so-called proactive police patrolling in urban areas.  Clearly the officers were not specifically looking for the defendant, and there is no indication they received a tip that the individuals on the sidewalk were armed.  Rather, the police were acting on their own suspicions when they made the decision to approach the defendant.  Had the defendant remained where he was or simply walked away from law enforcement, there may have been an argument that any detention was illegal.  An illegal detention would have triggered a potential motion to suppress the gun and the CDS found on the defendant, but the fact that he fled effectively ended any realistic constitutional challenges to the police conduct.  The law is very clear that a person is not seized by law enforcement if he or she takes off running upon their approach.  Additionally, a person does not have any constitutional standing to challenge the seizure of items that are thrown away or abandoned by a suspect.  Running from police is not illegal by itself, but as soon as this defendant was observed throwing a gun and a magazine there was probable cause to arrest him.  Only then could police lawfully detain the man and search him incident to arrest.  This case played out like many have in the past, and unfortunately there was not much the defense could do but argue for a lower sentence.

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baltimore-217620__480-300x199The Baltimore City State’s Attorney was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on two counts of mortgage fraud and two counts of perjury, and will now be forced to see the criminal justice system from the opposite side for the time being.  The indictment comes just a few months before the primary election, which in Baltimore City decides who will sit as acting State’s Attorney for the next four years.  The City’s top prosecutor has shown no signs of stepping down and through her attorney has vigorously denied the allegations.  Anyone looking for a quick resolution to this matter may be in luck, as the defense is attempting to move the case along as quickly as possible.  Numerous Baltimore City public officials have been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the past decade, including two mayors, dozens of police and correctional officers and other local politicians.  This particular case was investigated by the FBI and the criminal investigations unit of the IRS, and while the allegations certainly seem serious, a conviction for any criminal activity is far from a foregone conclusion.

The city prosecutor has been under investigation since at least spring of 2021, though the details released back in March only informed the public that a federal grand jury subpoenaed her campaign and bank records.  It is unclear at this point whether this indictment ended that investigation, or whether the feds are waiting to present additional charges to a grand jury.  The indictment accuses the prosecutor of perjury by lying on an application and unlawfully withdrawing funds from a Deferred Compensation Plan designed to help those who had experienced financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.  Federal prosecutors pointed out that the prosecutor did not experience financial hardship, and that her salary as State’s Attorney actually increased during the pandemic.  The prosecutor’s lawyers responded to these claims stating that she sustained financial losses to businesses unrelated to her public position.  In other words, her salary increased, but she suffered enough losses in her other business ventures to justify applying for the pandemic aid.

The mortgage fraud charges are slightly more complicated, and are related to two homes the prosecutor and her husband purchased in Florida.  The feds are arguing that when applying for mortgages she failed to disclose a lien that was placed on a property belonging to her husband as a result of $45k in overdue taxes.  There is another allegation that the prosecutor made a false assertion on a mortgage application.  The government is alleging she failed to disclose an agreement with a vacation home management company in order to secure a lower rate.  Defense lawyers for the prosecutor have asserted the prosecutor did not knowingly omit the tax lien, and that the notices sent by the IRS were not received.

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Heroin2-300x180A 28-year-old man from Baltimore recently pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Taken by itself, those facts are hardly an anomaly these days, as the feds have shown a proclivity to prosecute street level drug dealers (especially when heroin and fentanyl are involved).  However, the facts surrounding the investigation and eventual arrest are noteworthy.  Law enforcement first were alerted to the defendant’s criminal involvement as a result of a fatal heroin overdose that occurred in Harford County in 2017.  As is the case with many fatal drug overdoses, law enforcement’s first lead came from the cell phone of the deceased.  Police were able to see that the deceased had arranged to meet a person with an alias linked to the defendant in order to effectuate a drug transaction.  The deal in question took place in a grocery store bathroom in Baltimore City, which is a common practice to assure there is no video surveillance.

Law enforcement then began tracking the defendant’s movements, and observed him making an alleged drug transaction in a gas station bathroom.  The surveillance led to a search warrant, which was ultimately conducted on the defendant’s home and vehicle about one month after the fatal overdose.  Police were also able to obtain permission from a judge to install a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s vehicle, another common law enforcement tactic.  During execution of the warrant law enforcement recovered a firearm, $12k in cash, 82 grams of cocaine, 55 grams of heroin and 7 grams of fentanyl.  Officers also seized a cell phone with the same number that the deceased was texting prior to the overdose.  It wasn’t until two years later that a federal grand jury actually indicted the defendant, and now two years after that the case is finally on its way to a resolution.  The defendant and the government have agreed to a sentence between 8 and 12 years, and the defendant will learn his fate in March of 2022.  Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in this investigation, including the DEA, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Anne Arundel County Police, Baltimore County Police and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.  The defendant has a host of prior offenses and is on probation in Baltimore City for a gun charge.  The Blog will follow this case and potentially post again after the defendant is sentenced.

The defendant will receive a stiff federal sentence that is not parole eligible, and could possibly face additional state time for his violation of probation, but he avoided potential prosecution for involuntary manslaughter under Maryland criminal law §2.207.  Prosecutors in jurisdictions throughout the state have been filing manslaughter charges against defendants alleged to have sold CDS (typically heroin fentanyl mix) to the victim of a fatal overdose.  While the manslaughter charge carries a lower maximum penalty than the actual distribution (20 vs. 10 years), it can increase the overall sentencing guidelines, and drastically influence the State’s offer and the judge’s sentence.  If you or a loved one has been charged with any type of drug offense including possession with intent to distribute, firearm possession in a drug trafficking crime or manslaughter, call Maryland criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in drug offenses and gun crimes, and is available 7 days a week at 410-207-2598.  He has extensive experience in all Maryland jurisdictions, and is a skilled federal drug offense lawyer for cases being prosecuted in the Baltimore or Greenbelt federal courts.

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firearm-409000__480-200x300A 27-year-old man from Baltimore was recently sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for committing at least 35 commercial robberies throughout Maryland.  According to the plea agreement, between December 2018 and November 2019 the defendant robbed pharmacies, fast-food restaurants, cell phone stores and even a gym during a crime spree that eventually ended with him behind bars.  The defendant originally pled guilty on October 1 to affecting commerce by robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime, which has a 7-year maximum penalty.  The robberies took place in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, and were investigated by local police departments as well as the FBI.  The case was likely picked up by the feds due to the extent of the crime spree as well as the presence of a firearm.

Many of the offenses were committed in the same fashion, with the defendant approaching a cash register with a note demanding money and stating that the defendant had a gun.  Fortunately, there were never any shots fired in the robberies, and nobody was injured.  The defendant apparently only brandished his firearm once, though he partially revealed the firearm as many as five times.  In at least one instance the defendant ordered employees to open the business safe, but in many other instances the defendant only made out with a couple hundred dollars.  He stole as much as $1,900 in one robbery, but that appears to be his most lucrative (temporarily) criminal act.

The defendant will likely serve at least 10-12 years behind bars before being considered for release to a halfway house or other type of early release.  There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system, which means this sentence is roughly equivalent to a 20-year state prison sentence.  Anyone sentence to a crime of violence such as robbery must serve at least half of their total active incarceration before being considered for parole, and even then, parole is never a foregone conclusion.  Obviously, the defendant could have faced exponentially more time if had been charged for each of the robberies in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and Baltimore County.  Combining all the cases in one federal indictment was clearly a more logical option for the government and for the defendant.  The defendant will likely be finished with his sentence before he reaches age 40, and the dozens of victims can have some sort of closure now that the case against the defendant is resolved.  It appears the defendant had a minor history of theft related charges in state court already, so having 35 robberies combined into one global sentence may have been a break for him.

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courtroom-898931_1280-300x226A former high ranking official for the Maryland Governor has pleaded not-guilty to four federal charges of wire fraud and two charges of misappropriation.  The 52-year-old former chief of staff to the Governor is accused of various missteps including using funds belonging to the State of Maryland to make a charitable contribution to a museum where he was a member of the board of directors.  The funds came from the Maryland Environmental Service corporation, where the defendant served as executive director prior to taking a position with the governor’s office in Annapolis.  Perhaps the most egregious allegation was that the defendant caused the board at his former employer to approve paying him a full year’s salary, over $200k, upon leaving to take the job with the governor.  The defendant apparently told the board that the governor himself approved to so called severance package, though the governor has vigorously denied any such approval.  In total, the former chief of staff is facing up to 100 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.  He will obviously not serve anywhere close to the maximum amount of jail if convicted, but the charges are certainly severe.  The government informed the Federal Judge in the Baltimore courthouse that trial would take two weeks to complete, though there is no indication on whether advanced plea negotiations are taking place.  Discovery is apparently voluminous, and the defense needs time to assess the case before advising the client.

The same defendant is also facing a 27-count criminal information in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for various other state offense including misconduct in office and violations of Maryland’s wiretapping laws.  There are allegations that the defendant secretly recorded conversations with the Governor and other high ranking state officials.  The state case has not been set for trial yet, and has a status conference scheduled in the middle of December.  There will likely be a ton of evidence for the defense to sift through in order to properly evaluate the case, so we do not expect a swift resolution.  Both cases may end up in trial or the defense may be able to work out some sort of global plea agreement.  Right now it is simply too early to tell which direction these cases are headed, but the Blog will post a follow-up article as news becomes available.

Maryland has strict laws regarding the recording or intercepting of private conversations and telephone calls, and each violation is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Even if another person uses or publishes a recording that has been intercepted unlawfully it could be a crime as long the publisher should have known a the recording was illegal.  Maryland is considered a two-party state when it comes to recording or intercepting conversations, which means both parties must be aware of the recording.  There are exceptions including when the police are conducting active investigations for a host of different crimes including murder, kidnapping, sex offenses, robbery, bribery, fraud, felony theft, firearms crimes and drug distribution.  In these cases the police may intercept wire, oral or electronic evidence in order to provide evidence of the crime.  The Maryland wiretapping law is codified under Title 10 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings section of the state laws, and not the criminal law section.  Subtitle 4 of the evidence part of this section covers wiretapping and electronic surveillance, and section 10-402 is the actual wiretapping law.

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graphics-882726_640-300x207The notorious Anne Arundel County arson case that has spanned more than 4 years has finally come to a close, as the defendant received his sentence late last week.  On Friday at the Baltimore City federal courthouse the 36-year-old defendant from Pasadena, Maryland was sentenced to 9 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay more than $500 thousand in restitution for his role in burning down a popular neighborhood bar.  The man was charged under 18 U.S. Code § 844 (i), which makes it a federal offense to maliciously damage or destroy any real property used in interstate or foreign commerce by fire or explosives.  The maximum penalty for this offense is up to 20 years in prison that includes a 5-year mandatory sentence.  If any person is injured, including a public officer such as a firefighter, the maximum penalty becomes 40 years with a 7-year mandatory term.  Unfortunately, a firefighter was actually injured while attempting to extinguish the blaze after he was thrown off a ladder by the force of a backdraft.

The Blog detailed the facts of this case in a previous post back in April when the plea was announced, so we won’t go over the entire case again.  The basic facts were that the defendant was charged with second-degree assault and theft for an incident that occurred at the bar 6 days before the fire.  He apparently returned to the bar in an attempt to destroy the surveillance equipment that he believed would incriminate him in the assault case, but ended up burning the entire bar down except for the cameras he sought to destroy.  So, not only was the assault captured on the surveillance, but he was also on video making Molotov cocktails and throwing them at the bar.  ATF trained K9s also located the presence of gasoline (a common accelerant used in incendiary devices) in the area where the defendant was standing on video.

The defendant ended up being found guilty of the assault in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County and was given a three-year suspended sentence.  The theft charge was nolle. prossed by the state as part of the plea agreement, although the defendant was found guilty of another unrelated theft that occurred a few weeks after the fire.  He will now serve upwards of 7.5 years behind bars before being released to state and federal probation.  Although the exact guideline range that the defendant was assigned is not discussed in the U.S. Attorney’s press release, the base offense level for malicious destruction of property by fire appears to be at least 24.  There were aggravating factors that elevated his guidelines including the fact that the fire was started in an attempt to conceal evidence of another offense, which adds two levels.  By our estimation it seems the defendant received a sentence at or near the top of the guidelines.

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