Thursday, September 23, 2021

Brooklyn Residents Plead Guilty To Conspiring To Commit Arson In Connection With Burning Of NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit Vehicle


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that COREY SMITH and ELAINE CARBERRY pled guilty to conspiring to burn a marked New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Homeless Outreach Unit van in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York, New York, in July 2020.  SMITH and CARBERRY pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman, to whom the case is assigned. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated: “As they admitted in court today, Corey Smith and Elaine Carberry committed arson, deliberately setting fire to an NYPD van, then minutes later returning to the vehicle and – once again using an accelerant – ensuring its complete destruction.  Now Smith and Carberry await sentencing for their willful and wanton destruction of a law enforcement vehicle that had been used for outreach to homeless New Yorkers.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

On July 15, 2020, shortly after 4:30 a.m., SMITH and CARBERRY set a marked NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit van (“NYPD Van”) on the northwest corner of 12th Street and University Place on fire using ignitable liquid.  More specifically, as surveillance footage shows, as SMITH walked by the NYPD Van, CARBERRY handed SMITH a bottle filled with ignitable liquid and SMITH attempted to set fire to the NYPD Van.  After seeing that the NYPD Van was not fully engulfed in flames, CARBERRY again handed SMITH the bottle of ignitable liquid and SMITH circled back to the NYPD Van with more accelerant, and set it ablaze once more, thereby assuring the complete destruction of the NYPD Van. 

An analysis of the materials found in the NYPD Van confirmed the presence of an accelerant.  The Fire Department of the City of New York (“FDNY”) ultimately confirmed that the fire was deliberately set as an act of arson, resulting in the complete destruction of the NYPD Van. 

CARBERRY, 37, and SMITH, 25, both of Brooklyn, New York, each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit arson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  In connection with their guilty pleas, both defendants admitted their roles in the arson.  CARBERRY is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Liman on January 5, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.  SMITH is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Liman on January 11, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.

The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Arson and Explosion Task Force of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the NYPD, and the FDNY. 

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