A Philadelphia pair is facing up to 90 years in prison for their alleged attempt to rob a Wawa with multiple explosive devices during last year's widespread Black Lives Matter protests, federal authorities announced.
The indictment alleges that Michael Fields, 34, and Desiree Adorno, 65, conspired with other individuals to break into a Wawa store on Richmond Street in Philadelphia, in June 2020, according to Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams.
In addition to stealing merchandise from the store, the indictment alleges that the pair had explosive devices in their possession, one of which was placed inside a lottery machine inside the Wawa, and two of which were placed near a safe and a cash register in the middle of the store, Williams said.
Police arrived at the store before any devices were detonated, Williams said.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the entire Department of Justice will always support peaceful protest – we are sworn to protect the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Williams said.
“But that does not cover destructive rioting, looting, committing arson, and other violent acts. Here, the defendants allegedly attempted to detonate explosive devices while robbing a store, potentially endangering many lives including those of police officers who responded to the scene. This conduct is not free speech and is not protected by our constitution; rather, it is criminal.”
“As alleged, these defendants were in possession of several explosive devices and appeared intent to use them,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division.
“This type of behavior places our entire community in danger. I commend the outstanding work of the Philadelphia Police Department who acted swiftly and were able to arrest these individuals before further harm could be done. ATF, along with our local, state, and federal partners remain dedicated to protecting our community from violent acts of all kinds.”
The pair are charged with conspiracy and attempting to maliciously damage property used in interstate commerce by means of an explosive, and aiding and abetting, Williams said.
Fields was also charged with possession of an unregistered firearm.
If convicted, Fields faces a maximum possible sentence of 90 years in prison, and Adorno faces a maximum possible sentence of 80 years in prison, Williams said.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roberta Benjamin.
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