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Priest Sentenced To Federal Prison For Vandalizing Georgia Navy Base

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) – A judge sentenced a priest with a long history of arrests during anti-war protests to federal prison for the April 2018 illegal entry and vandalism of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in St. Mary's, Georgia.

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Stephen Michael Kelly, 71, of Massachusetts, to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $33,503.51 in restitution, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

A jury found Kelly, along with six other defendants, after a four-day trial in October 2019 on charges of Conspiracy, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation, Depredation of Government Property, and Trespass. He was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence.

There is no parole in the federal system.

"Damaging security barriers to enter restricted military areas and commit vandalism is not lawfully protected speech and will be prosecuted in the Southern District of Georgia. The late-night activities of Stephen Kelly and other defendants cannot be construed as peaceful protests. These defendants destroyed government property at a considerable cost to the taxpayers and caused a significant disruption on an important Naval installation," said U.S. Attorney Christine. "Worse still, their actions created a significant risk of serious injury and even death to themselves and base personnel."

As admitted by the defendants during the trial, with their own videos of the activities shown to jurors, the seven entered an outer security fence at the naval installation, after cutting a padlock from a gate during the late hours of April 4, 2018. Once through the security fence, the group damaged and vandalized property inside the facility before naval security personnel took them into custody.

Kelly served more than eight years in prison for previous similar trespass and vandalism convictions. At the time of the Kings Bay arrest, Kelly was serving probation for a September 2017 federal sentence for trespassing on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State. He will be remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on a warrant for probation violation from the Western District of Washington.

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Elizabeth McAlister, 80, of New London, Conn., previously was sentenced to the 17 months, nine days of time already served in the case, and Patrick M. O'Neill, 64, of Garner, N.C., is scheduled for sentencing Friday. The remaining defendants – Mark Peter Colville, 59, of New Haven, Conn.; Clare Therese Grady, 62, of Ithaca, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy, 65, of Perkinsville, Vt.; and Carmen Trotta, 57, of New York, N.Y. – are scheduled for sentencing in November.

©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. SPPD contributed to this story.


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