A 71-year-old Catholic priest was sentenced this week to 33 months in federal prison for his role in breaking into and vandalizing Submarine Base Kings Bay, according to U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine of the Southern District of Georgia.
Stephen Michael Kelly of Massachusetts was found guilty after a four-day trial this month of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property and trespassing. He was among seven defendants charged with cutting a padlock on a gate at the naval installation in St. Marys on Oct. 4, 2018, and damaging property once inside.
Kelly has a long history of arrests involving anti-war protests. He was already on parole at the time of the Kings Bay incident, sentenced in 2017 for trespassing at a nuclear submarine base in Washington State. U.S. Marshals will take custody of Kelly on a federal violation of probation warrant out of the Western District of Washington.
All total, Kelly has served more than eight years in prison for convictions on similar trespass and vandalism incidents. After release on the most recent sentencing, Kelly will serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Among his co-defendants in the Kings Bay incident, 80-year-old Elizabeth McAlister of New London, Conn., was previously sentenced to time served, 17 months and nine days, for her involvement in the case.
Patrick O’Neill, 64, of Garner, N.C., will be sentenced Friday. Mark Peter Colville, 59, of New Haven, Conn., Clare Therese Grady, 62, of Ithica, N.Y., Martha Hennessy, 65, of Perkinsille, Vt.; and Carmen Trotta, 57, of New York City are scheduled for sentencing next month.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “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. 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.”