BRUNSWICK, GA: A priest with a long history of arrests during anti-war protests has been sentenced to federal prison for the April 2018 illegal entry and vandalism of Submarine Base Kings Bay.
Stephen Michael Kelly, 71, of Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood 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. Kelly, along with six other defendants, was found guilty after a four-day jury 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. The court’s judgment and sentence is entirely appropriate.”
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 in St. Marys, Ga., 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 being taken into custody by naval security personnel.
Kelly has 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.
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.
The case was prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karl Knoche, E. Greg Gilluly Jr. and Channell Singh, with assistance from Litigation Technologist Dean Athanasopoulos. Special Agents Thomas Kenney and Barry Clinedinst led the investigation for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.