An Ohio man named Aimenn D. Penny has been indicted for violating the Church Arson Prevention Act by using Molotov cocktails against the Community Church of Chesterland in an attempt to burn it down. He was also indicted on one count of using fire to commit a federal felony, one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of possessing a destructive device.
Penny attempted to burn the church when he learned it was holding multiple drag show events the following weekend. He was arrested and charged with federal offenses on March 31.
If convicted, Penny faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison for the violation of the Church Arson Prevention Act. He also faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison for the malicious use of explosive materials charge and up to 10 years in prison for the possession of a destructive device charge. Additionally, if convicted of using fire to commit a federal felony, Penny faces a 10-year mandatory prison sentence that will run consecutively with any other prison term imposed.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler for the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen of the FBI Cleveland Field Office. The FBI Cleveland Field Office is investigating the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Deckert and Matthew W. Shepherd for the Northern District of Ohio and Trial Attorneys Jacob Warren and Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section with assistance from Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.